|House Passes Massie’s Bipartisan Hemp Amendment
– The House of Representatives on Wednesday passed an industrial hemp amendment sponsored by Congressman Thomas Massie (R-KY), Congressman Andy Barr (R-KY), Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO), Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), and Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR). The amendment was part of the Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) appropriations bill, which funds many government agencies, including the Department of Justice and the Department of Commerce.
The amendment, which would prohibit the use of federal funds to impede industrial hemp research, passed 289-132.
“This amendment simply requires the DEA to comply with federal law,” said Congressman Massie. “The DEA continues to waste valuable time and taxpayer dollars by holding up non-psychoactive hemp seeds destined for legitimate hemp pilot programs.”
“Kentucky was once the nation’s leading producer of industrial hemp, and Henry Clay was a large producer himself,” said Congressman Barr. "While the uses of hemp have grown significantly since Kentucky’s peak production in the mid-nineteenth century, the U.S. must now import much of the crop. The University of Kentucky has been conducting serious research into the usefulness and viability of this crop for our farmers, and I am pleased that Congress has voted to support research conducted by legitimate hemp pilot programs.”
Massie’s hemp amendment to the 2014 farm bill legalized the cultivation of industrial hemp for research purposes and allowed for the establishment of industrial hemp pilot programs in states across the country. In Kentucky alone, nearly 1,800 acres of hemp are projected to be grown this summer in these pilot programs. However, despite the clear language of the farm bill amendment, which specifically states that state agriculture agencies and universities will be growing the industrial hemp for research, the DEA has continuously ignored the plain text of the federal statute.
The House also adopted a broader hemp amendment on Wednesday, introduced by Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) and co-sponsored by Congressman Thomas Massie. The Bonamici-Massie-Blumenaur-Polis hemp amendment passed 282-146 and would allow for commercial scale hemp production without the restriction that it be associated with an official research program.
Congresswoman Bonamici stated, “Despite the many uses of hemp, the federal government considers it a Schedule I drug. When law enforcement goes after industrial hemp, it does not further public safety; instead it deprives farm economies of a potentially multi-billion dollar crop that is used to make everything from rope to soap.”
Kentucky was a leading producer of the world’s industrial hemp supply during America’s early years as a nation. It is used in hundreds of products including paper, lotions, clothing, canvas, rope, and food. Critics of industrial hemp mistakenly equate it to marijuana. The plants are cousins in the cannabis family but industrial hemp does not contain a psychoactive amount of the intoxicant (THC) found in marijuana, making it ineffective as a drug. Hemp is grown in over 30 western nations including Canada, England and France.
The House passed the underlying CJS appropriations bill, 242-183. The measure will require passage in the Senate before advancing to the President.