It’s incredible to think that hemp is still federally prohibited in 2018, just because it comes from cannabis. However, a new bill introduced recently in the House of Representatives suggests that may be put right soon.
The bill is gaining traction and has acquired 43 cosponsors so far. If successful, the definition of marijuana in the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) would have to be tweaked to remove research and industrial hemp. The CSA, drawn up by the federal government, says that cannabis products have no medicinal value, due to its status as a Schedule I drug.
Jared Polis, a cosponsor of the bill, argued that hemp is an agricultural crop and therefore it is “completely inappropriate” for the plant to be prohibited, in an interview with the Cannabist. Polis continued, saying that the CSA as established for drugs not crops, and that hemp is present in “tens of thousands” of legal products. Furthermore, hemp does not contain the concentrations of THC needed to induce a hallucinogenic response.
Hemp must currently be imported into the United States, mostly from northern Europe, due to the Schedule I classification of cannabis. The accumulation of more than 40 co-sponsors is indicative of strong, knowledgeable support for industrial hemp. This is unsurprising – farmers have no doubt told their representatives about the lucrative opportunities of hemp, in regard to the medical cannabis industry and others.
This isn’t the first bill in recent times that has sought to legalize hemp – in fact there have been nine since 2005 (six in the House, three in the Senate). However, these bills failed to progress past the committee phase which would entitle them to a vote. A bill that tried to legalize hemp for cultivation purpose tallied just six co-sponsors.
Encouragingly, the ‘Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2017’ has earned bipartisan support, increasing its chances of success. The bill was introduced by a quartet of representatives, three Republican and one Democrat – James Comer (R-Kentucky), Bob Goodlatte (R-Virginia), Thomas Massie (R-Virginia) and Jared Polis (D-Colorado).
Comer said that he was “honored” to sponsor the bill, and that he has seen the “economic viability” of the plant first hand. The Kentucky representative recognizes the benefits that hemp can have to farming families and American workers, generally – a hemp revolution sure would create plenty of jobs. Kentucky is one state which stands to gain immeasurably from hemp legalization.
Other countries have showed that legalizing hemp can be a success – American lawmakers just need to look north of the border. Canada allows for the cultivation of hemp plants with a maximum 0.3 percent of the hallucinogenic THC. The same THC threshold has been set for the proposed Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2017.
It would be great financially for American farmers and generally for American citizens if Washington took the step to legalize hemp. The plant is used by millions for its therapeutic properties, but can also be worked with to create clothing, rope paper and more. It’s also an excellent alternative to plastics.