Last week, the Senate unanimously passed a resolution to designate the week of June 5th-11th as “Hemp History Week.” The resolution was introduced last Wednesday by Democratic Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, alongside Republican Senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul. “Industrial hemp has had a long and productive history in the U.S., and it's time to revive that history now for the 21st Century,” Merkley said. “Outdated policies should not stand in the way of our American farmers growing a crop that is already used to make products sold all across the U.S.”
The U.S. is currently the largest consumer of industrial hemp, but American farmers are unable to grow large amounts of the plant because it is still considered a dangerous Schedule I drug by the DEA, even though it has no psychoactive properties. Because of federal prohibition, American businesses are forced to import $76 million of hemp products from other countries every year.
The coalition of senators plan to reintroduce the Industrial Hemp Farming Act this year, which would remove hemp from the Schedule I controlled substances list, allowing any American to grow the plant without fear of federal prosecution. This bill was originally introduced in 2015, but did not pass at the time. Thirty-one states have passed laws to make it easier to grow the plant, but anyone wanting to grow hemp must currently apply for a waiver from the DEA.
“The unjustifiable ban on growing hemp in the United States is locking American farmers and innovators out of good-paying jobs and countless ways to profit from this versatile plant,” Wyden said. “We are going to stay at this. It’s simple: American farmers should be able to grow hemp legally once again in the United States.”