Organic Consumers Association


Previous Page

Click here to print this page

Make a Donation!


State Legislatures May Overturn Federal Ban on Growing Industrial Hemp

<> March 4, 2005
<> March 7, 2005

Hemp Farming Legislation Gaining Momentum
Four States Likely to Pass Bills This Year
Federal Legislation Coming This Spring

WASHINGTON, DC - Vote Hemp, a non-profit organization dedicated to the
acceptance of industrial hemp, believes that four state legislatures are
likely to pass legislation this year that would allow farmers and
researchers to grow industrial hemp. In California, New Hampshire, Oregon
and North Dakota business leaders, farmers and legislators are backing
legislation that would bring back hemp farming almost 50 years after the
crop was taken away from farmers who grew the versatile plant for centuries.

"Hemp farming has become a lucrative crop for farmers in Europe, Canada and
Asia, so farmers here are asking 'Why are we being left out?'" says Alexis
Baden-Mayer, Director of Government Relations for Vote Hemp. "The states
considering hemp legislation this year are serious about the issue despite
the federal government's de-facto ban on hemp cultivation that stems from
misguided marijuana prohibition. Regardless of the federal ban, state
legislators are listening to farmers and business owners who think the
federal restrictions are not based on scientific arguments - and actually
hurt U.S. economic interests since it is legal to import, process, sell and
consume hemp seed and hemp fiber products."

For thousands of years different varieties of Cannabis have been cultivated
for non-drug uses such as paper, textiles, soap, food, building materials
and more recently high-tech biocomposites used in automobiles. Hemp and
marijuana come from different varieties of the Cannabis plant. "Because
there are at least 1.5 million cars on the road with hemp door panels, tens
of millions of dollars are spent annually on hemp food and hemp body care,
and hemp paper is being made here in the U.S., people are asking tough
questions about why the U.S. government won't distinguish low-THC hemp from
high-THC drug varieties. I believe there will be federal legislation soon to
address needed reforms," says Baden-Mayer.

Highlights of State Hemp Legislation

Over the past decade at least twenty-five pro-hemp bills have been
considered by state legislatures and fourteen have become law. Five states
(Hawaii, Kentucky, Montana, North Dakota and West Virginia) allow for hemp
farming on a commercial or research basis.

Bills being considered this year include:

California - Assembly Bill 1147 would give farmers the right to apply for
state licenses to grow low-THC varieties of hemp. The law would be similar
to regulations on industrial hemp in other countries such as Canada and the
European Union. The University of California would also conduct research on
industrial hemp.

New Hampshire - House Bill 55-FN-A would let farmers apply for a state
license to grow industrial hemp. Qualifying farmers must have no criminal
convictions and plant at least five acres per year. Only hemp seed sold to
farmers by the NH Commissioner of Agriculture would be approved for planting
to ensure only low-THC varieties of the plant are grown.

North Dakota - House Bill 1492 passed the House on February 16, passed the
Senate on March 1, and is awaiting action by the Governor. HB 1492 allows
North Dakota State University to start storing "feral hemp seed" in
preparation for the day it becomes legal to grow industrial hemp in the U.S.
The vote was 87-3 in the House and 46-0 in the Senate. In 1999 North Dakota
was the first state to pass hemp farming legislation, but to date the state
has not challenged federal supremacy over the issue in the courts.

Oregon - Senate Bill 294 permits production and possession of industrial
hemp and trade in industrial hemp commodities and products. The bill
authorizes the State Department of Agriculture to administer a licensing,
permitting and inspection program for growers and handlers of industrial

to learn more about state legislation. For more information or to arrange interviews with
representatives of the hemp industry, please call Adam Eidinger at
202-232-8997 or 202-744-2671