Legalize Hemp Now

Federal lawmakers will again file hemp legalization bill

Hemp growing in Canada
Hemp growing in Canada (by Photo by Scott T. Samson)

With lawmakers looking for ways to revive an economy in the dumper -- putting money toward developing renewable energy sources, for example -- could it be that the time is finally right for Congress to reauthorize industrial hemp farming?

Reps. Ron Paul, Surfside's own Liberpublican, and Barney Frank, D-Mass., are once again set to file legislation that would do just that. The Industrial Hemp Farming Act would exclude from the definition of marijuana all Cannabis sativa L. plants with a concentration of tetrahydrocannbinol (or THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in pot) at or below .3%. The bill would also give to the states the exclusive right to regulate hemp cultivation by farmers.

Paul and Frank are now on the troll for co-sponsors of the legislation, a match to a bill filed last session that ultimately languished in committee. Last time around the pair netted a coalition of 13 sponsors from eight states. In a March 10 letter to colleagues, Paul and Frank ask for support for the measure, which would allow the U.S. to join every other industrialized nation in the cultivation of hemp. Hemp is an incredibly versatile crop and is currently used to make food, clothing, paper, automotive parts, and automobile fuel.

Although the hemp market is fast growing, it is now supported entirely by imports: Because the Drug Enforcement Administration interprets the Controlled Substances Act to include non-narcotic hemp in the general prohibition of pot, U.S. farmers have not been able to grow the crop and all raw hemp materials must be imported, including from Canada and China. The position is ironic, at least, note the lawmakers in their letter, because federal law "concedes the safety of industrial hemp by allowing it to be legally imported for food."

Several states, led by North Dakota, have sought to reintroduce hemp farming, but have been stymied by the DEA, which seems intent on stopping the practice. North Dakota officials are currently fighting the DEA in federal court. Paul and Frank are hoping to stop the fight by changing the law: "Industrial hemp was grown legally in the United States for most of our nation's history," reads their letter. "In fact, during World War II, the federal government encouraged...hemp farming to help the war effort." Since 1970 though the law has precluded farmers from cultivating the crop "despite the fact that...hemp has such a low content of THC...that nobody can be psychologically affected by consuming" it.

Indeed.

Want to help? Click here and ask your representative to support the hemp bill.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Industrial Hemp
Hempsters Take D.C.
Hempsters Take D.C.
Hempsters deliver bag of seed to U.S. Attorney General

Jordan Smith, May 19, 2010

Court Says No to Hemp
Court Says No to Hemp
After years of legal wrangling, appeals court rules against North Dakota farmers

Jordan Smith, Dec. 23, 2009

More by Jordan Smith
'Chrome Underground' Goes Classic Car Hunting
'Chrome Underground' Goes Classic Car Hunting
Motoreum's Yusuf & Antonio talk about the biz and their reality TV debut

May 22, 2014

APD Brass Shifts Up, Down, Across
APD Brass Shifts Up, Down, Across
Musical chairs at Downtown HQ

May 9, 2014

KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

Industrial Hemp, Ron Paul, Barney Frank, DEA, Marijuana

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle