Merkley and Wyden Announce Key Appropriations Win for Industrial Hemp

Portland, OR – Oregon’s Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden announced today that included in the Senate Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations committee bill is an amendment offered by Senator Merkley that would prevent the federal government from interfering with the implementation of state laws on the cultivation of industrial hemp. 

Twenty-seven states now allow farmers to cultivate hemp, but farmers in those states still face the uncertainty that the Drug Enforcement Agency could take legal action against them. 

“It’s ridiculous that the federal government is still standing in the way of states that have made the decision to allow industrial hemp farming,” said Merkley. “Industrial hemp has the potential to create jobs and research opportunities here in Oregon and it’s time for the federal government to get out of the way.”   

“Ending restrictions on industrial hemp is pro-environment, pro-business, pro-farmer and pro-commonsense,” Wyden said. “That’s why I’ve been proud to work with Senator Merkley on this, and on our legislation that would stop the unfair punishment of hemp entrepreneurs and farmers in Oregon and nationwide. After all, if you can buy hemp at the local supermarket in Oregon, American farmers should be able to grow it.”

Industrial hemp is used to make everything from rope and cloth to oil and soap. Hemp products account for over $600 million in annual domestic sales, and while hemp has the potential to be a multi-billion dollar domestic crop, we instead have to import all of our hemp from places like Canada and China. 

Today’s amendment passed out of the Appropriations committee on a bipartisan voice vote. This same amendment passed with strong bipartisan support in the House last year by a 282-146 margin. 

Senators Merkley and Wyden were joined by Kentucky Senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul to introduce the Industrial Hemp Farming Act that would allow American farmers to grow and profit from industrial hemp. Specifically, the bill would remove hemp from the Schedule I controlled substance list under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, and would define it as a non-drug so long as it contained less than 0.3 percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

The following states have enacted laws allowing for the cultivation of industrial hemp:

California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, and Virginia.