Weed Watch: Small Congressional Gains
Speaking to his colleagues from the House floor, amendment co-sponsor Maurice Hinchey, D-New York, called it "unconscionable that we in Congress could possibly presume to tell a patient that he or she cannot use the only medication that has proven to combat the pain and symptoms associated with a devastating illness. How can we tell very sick people that they cannot have the drug that could save their lives simply because of a narrow ideology and bias against that drug in Congress?" Practically speaking, it appears that Hinchey's plea for compassion didn't sway any of the no-voters, led by Rep. Mark Souder, R-Indiana, head of the House drug policy subcommittee, who claims that medi-pot legalization is merely an effort to legalize pot for recreational use. Nonetheless, nationwide support for medi-pot continues to grow; in the latest Mason-Dixon poll, released June 14, 73% of Democrats and 63% of Republicans polled said that the federal government should not be prosecuting medi-pot patients.
In other weedy news, on June 23, Rep. Ron Paul officially introduced the Industrial Hemp Farming Act, which would free states from federal restrictions and allow for state regulation of hemp farming. Currently all hemp products sold in the U.S. are manufactured from raw hemp that has been imported (mainly from Canada, Europe, or China). Among the U.S. companies offering hemp products are Interface, the world's largest manufacturer of commercial carpet and carpet tiles; FlexForm Technologies, an Indiana-based company that makes natural fiber car carpeting; and Adidas USA, which has been selling hemp sneakers since 1995. So far 26 states have introduced hemp legislation and six Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine, Montana, North Dakota, and West Virginia have passed legislation to legalize the practice. Those laws are currently dormant, however, since federal law requires the Drug Enforcement Administration to approve any and all hemp farming ventures and so far the DEA has only issued a single hemp farming license, which has since expired, to growers in Hawaii.