Washington, D.C. – During “Hemp History Week,” the Senate today passed a bipartisan resolution recognizing the important role industrial hemp could play in boosting the agricultural industry and economy of the United States.
The Hemp History Week resolution passed the Senate by a unanimous voice vote today. Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., and Rand Paul, R-Ky., introduced the resolution Wednesday.
The United States is the world’s largest consumer of hemp, but current restrictions on growing industrial hemp in the U.S. force American businesses to import about $76 million worth of hemp to make retail products like clothing, food, soaps, paper products, and construction materials that are made in America.
“Another year has gone by and industrial hemp somehow remains on the controlled substances list,” Wyden said. “There’s no need to punish American farmers and entrepreneurs who stand to create good-paying jobs and countless products from this crop with seemingly endless uses. My bipartisan colleagues and I are working to lift this senseless ban during Hemp History Week and every week of the year.”
“I am proud to join my colleagues in this bipartisan effort to officially recognize this week as Hemp History Week,” McConnell said. “Given the important history of hemp in Kentucky and throughout the nation, we believe it is important to remember the role hemp has played in America’s past, and to envision a future where industrial hemp is once again a viable crop.”
“Industrial hemp has had a long and productive history in the U.S., and it’s time to revive that history now for the 21st Century,” said Merkley. “Outdated policy proscriptions should not stand in the way of our American farmers growing a crop that is already used to make products sold all across the U.S.”
“My vision for the farmers and manufacturers of Kentucky is to see us start growing hemp, creating jobs and leading the nation in this industry again,” Paul said. “Allowing farmers throughout our nation to cultivate industrial hemp and benefit from its many uses will boost our economy and bring much-needed jobs to the agriculture industry.”
The senators introduced the Industrial Hemp Farming Act last year to remove federal restrictions on the domestic cultivation of industrial hemp. 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).
Oregon and Kentucky are among twenty-eight states that have already defined industrial hemp as distinct from marijuana and removed barriers to production. However, under current federal law, farmers in states that allow industrial hemp research and pilot programs must still seek a waiver from the Drug Enforcement Administration.
In addition to Wyden, McConnell, Merkley and Paul, the Industrial Hemp Farming Act’s cosponsors now also include Sens. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., Michael Bennet, D-Colo., Steve Daines., R-Mont., Al Franken, D-Minn., Cory Gardner, R-Colo., Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii., Chris Murphy, D-Conn., Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii., and Jon Tester, D-Mont.