Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley today joined their Senate colleagues Rand Paul, R-Ky., Al Franken, D-Minn., and Michael Bennet, D-Colo., in urging Attorney General Jeff Sessions to address concerns about the hemp industry’s access to financial services by confirming the Department of Justice will respect Congress’ recent actions on industrial hemp pilot programs.
While the 2014 Farm Bill allowed state agriculture departments and universities to conduct industrial hemp research pilot programs in states that have authorized the growing and production of industrial hemp, including Oregon, Kentucky, Colorado, and Minnesota, the senators noted that some program participants “have either had their personal and business accounts closed at financial institutions or are facing the possibility of losing them.”
“This situation,” they continued, “is evidently due to the uncertainty of the continued legal status of the industrial hemp industry, and because the funds contained in the accounts are associated with industrial hemp.”
The members asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions to make it clear the Department of Justice will uphold the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2017, which prevents the federal government from interfering with the cultivation, transportation, processing, sale, or use of industrial hemp as authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill, and not act against financial institutions that handle related funds.
As the senators stated, “Industrial hemp research and farming have opened up doors for students, farmers, and small businesses in our states. In fact, American-grown hemp is already being used in a number of products, including fibers in automobile panels, fuels, food, animal bedding, and soaps, lotions and oils.”
Attorney General Sessions’ assurance that the Justice Department will abide by Congress’ actions would provide stability and help enable pilot programs to reach their full academic and economic potential.
Full text of the letter can be read here.