Tuesday, January 28, 2014

If Farm Bill passes, 11 states can grow industrial hemp in pilot and research projects

Industrial hemp made its way into the final Farm Bill, with the pending legislation allowing colleges, universities or "state departments of agriculture to cultivate industrial hemp in agricultural pilot programs in states that already permit the growth and cultivation of industrial hemp," U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said in a press release. Eleven states -- Colorado, Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia -- have such laws. 

McConnell took primary credit for the provision, citing his role as Republican leader of the Senate. He said it could help state economies "by exploring innovative ways to use hemp to benefit a variety of Kentucky industries, while avoiding negative impact to Kentucky law enforcement’s efforts at marijuana interdiction, the pilot programs authorized by this legislation could help boost our state’s economy."

Ed O'Keefe reports for The Washington Post, "Aides noted that the new hemp-themed provisions are among hundreds of policy and spending details buried in the legislation, but the decision is likely to contribute to a growing national debate about the legalization of marijuana both for medicinal and recreational purposes."

McConnell's release said, "The legislation carved out industrial hemp from the federal Controlled Substances Act, which currently does not distinguish industrial hemp from marijuana. Industrial hemp lacks the high quantities of the active ingredient THC found in the abuse-prone marijuana." Colorado has already released hemp regulations, and had a legal hemp crop. Kentucky had been planning a spring crop, even as state officials debated its legality. The bill defines industrial hemp as that containing less than 0.3 percent delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol by dry weight. (Hemp for You graphic)

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