Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo. introduced The Industrial Hemp Water Rights Act today, legislation to ensure farmers can use their water rights to grow industrial hemp in states where industrial hemp cultivation is allowed.
In 2014, due to an amendment authored by Polis, U.S. Department of Agriculture began a pilot program authorizing farmers to grow industrial hemp. The pilot program has been stifled, though, because the Federal Bureau of Reclamation prohibits farmers from using federally controlled water to grow controlled substances, which includes industrial hemp.
“Farmers deserve the freedom to use their water to grow industrial hemp, an age-old crop with boundless potential,” said Polis. ”The law already allows farmers to cultivate hemp; it only makes sense that we cut the red-tape and allow them the water they need to grow it and grow jobs in the process. Hemp can be used as a more sustainable alternative for everything from paper to biofuel, if only we afford the industry the tools it needs to grow.”
Polis’s bill would ensure that owners of water rights can use their water to grow industrial hemp, regardless of whether the water passed through federal water projects.
“Colorado grows more hemp in this country than any other state. In fact, according to the recent Ag report, there’s more hemp acreage in Colorado than there are peach orchards,” said Tim Gordon, President of the Colorado Hemp Industry Association. “So it is imperative that our farmers are able to exercise their water rights for this crop and this expanding industry in Colorado as well as other states following our lead. We are glad to have Congressman Polis take the lead on this issue as he has for years.”
Polis is the Co-Founder and Co-Chair of the bipartisan Cannabis Caucus. The Caucus serves as a forum for members of the U.S. House of Representatives to discuss, learn, and work together to establish a better and more rational approach to federal cannabis policy, including hemp. Earlier this year, he also reintroduced the Industrial Hemp Farming Act which would remove hemp from the Controlled Substance Act.