Sen. Ron Wyden’s attempt to expand production of industrial hemp fails
Hemp is a plant that has many commercial applications but Sen. Ron Wyden’s effort to include a provision in the farm bill to formally classify it as a legitimate crop failed Thursday as the Senate finished work on the bill without considering his amendment.
The official reason was that the “hemp amendment” was not germane because it edged into the Controlled Substances Act. Wyden’s amendment would have excluded industrial hemp from the definition of marijuana. He hoped to attach it to the farm bill.
“I firmly believe that American farmers should not be denied an opportunity to grow and sell a legitimate crop simply because it resembles an illegal one,” Wyden said in a statement after the Senate finished work on the 1,010-page bill that governs farm policy for the next five years.
Despite the defeat, Wyden sought to put a positive spin on the effort.
“Raising this issue has sparked a growing awareness of exactly how ridiculous the U.S.’s ban on industrial hemp is,” he said.
“I’m confident that if grassroots support continues to grow and members of Congress continue to hear from voters then common sense hemp legislation can move through Congress in the near future,” he said.
Wyden argued that changing the definition would create jobs. Industrial hemp, he argued, is a commercial product with many uses that should not be restricted like a drug. Ten states, including Oregon, have removed barriers to its production or research of industrial hemp.
Even so, farmers that grow hemp are subject to raids by federal agents and potential prison terms because under federal law hemp is defined as a controlled substance.
There have been similar efforts in previous years but the size and scope expanded this year. More than 15,000 letters were delivered to Congress in support of Wyden’s amendment and similar measures to de-criminalize hemp. The Hemp Industries Association orchestrated a lobbying campaign.
If Wyden’s amendment had not gone up in smoke, it would have reversed a prohibition imposed 50 years ago. It also would give states the authority to regulate cultivation of industrial hemp. Wyden argued it would not have adverse impact on the federal government’s efforts to dry up the marijuana market and people who raise it.
Industry officials and supporters say hemp has a large market potential and can be used for everything as a substitute to milk to textiles and rope, as well as to make building materials and for use in plastics.
– By Charles Pope
Originally posted here