Posted: Thursday, February 21, 2013 3:13 PM
Oregon Democratic Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley and Kentucky Republican Sens. Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul has introduced legislation to allow American farmers to grow industrial hemp.
The Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2013 would remove federal restrictions on the domestic cultivation of hemp, provided it contained less than 0.3 percent of the psychoactive substance tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC.
"Unfortunately, there are some dumb regulations that are hurting economic growth and job creation," Wyden said in a press release, "and the ban on growing industrial hemp is certainly among them."
The U.S. is the largest consumer of hemp, but remains the only major industrialized country that bans farming the crop, according to Wyden.
"The opportunities for American farmers and businesses are obvious here," Wyden said. "It's time to boost revenues for farmers and reduce the costs for the businesses around the county that use hemp."
Oregon is among eight states that already have defined industrial hemp as distinct from marijuana and removed barriers to production. Farmers who grow it here, however, must seek a waiver from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration or risk seizures by federal agents.
The Kentucky Senate Agriculture Committee recently unanimously approved a bill to license hemp producers. A bill in Washington would call on researchers at Washington State University to study the feasibility and desirability of growing hemp there.
The Senate bill introduced Feb. 14 is a companion to HR525, which was introduced earlier this month in the House of Representatives with 28 original co-sponsors.