A new bill before Congress could remove the last barriers to hemp growing in the United States, but only if legislators remove harmful provisions that prevent it from being a complete solution to hemp’s legal troubles.
In 2014, new legislation once again allowed the states to grow hemp for research purposes after decades of prohibition. Unfortunately, that law still leaves room for government agencies to threaten hemp growers and vendors, and falls far short of total legalization.
Industry advocates have spent years lobbying Congress for a bill which would completely legalize industrial hemp and remove it from Drug Enforcement Agency oversight and interference. Though deeply flawed In its current form, there’s hope that the Industrial Hemp Farming Act, currently making its way through Congress, could be an important step in that direction.
“I’m confident as this goes through different committees, through the House and the Senate, that it can get shaken out the right way,” said John Ryan, founder of Ananda Hemp, which grows hundreds of acres of hemp for CBD and other uses in Kentucky.
To understand the potential of the Industrial Hemp Farming Act, we talked to Ryan and other hemp industry professionals who hope this bill marks a major step toward total legalization of hemp. In this article we’ll explain why legislative change is so important to hemp’s future.
A brief overview of the state of hemp in the United States of America
Popular Mechanics predicted in 1938 that hemp would soon become a “billion dollar crop,” but that promise was snuffed out by drug prohibition, which made hemp growing illegal except for a brief period during World War II.
Hemp growing restarted in the U.S. in the wake of the 2014 Farm Bill, which legalized hemp growing for research purposes. Research was broadly defined to include market research — in other words, sales of hemp-based products as well as research into simply growing and processing the plant.
To understand the potential of the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2017, we talked with experts who hope this marks a major step toward total legalization.