Representative Suzanne Bonamici has proposed a new amendment to the House appropriations bill that would protect the large number of states that have legalized the cultivation of hemp. The federal government still defines hemp as an illegal drug under the Controlled Substances Act, despite the fact that it has no psychoactive effects. The majority of states have legalized the cultivation of hemp for industrial purposes, but fear of federal interference has dissuaded many would-be hemp farmers.
The amendment to the appropriations bill states that “none of the funds made available by this Act may be used to prevent a State from implementing its own State laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of industrial hemp, as defined in section 7606 of the Agricultural Act of 2014.” The Agricultural Act created a legal definition of hemp as a substance separate from marijuana, and authorized states to grow hemp for research purposes.
The United States is currently the only developed nation that does not allow the cultivation of industrial hemp on a large scale. Hemp is used as a renewable source for raw materials used in clothing, paper, biofuel, and constructional materials, and is more environmentally friendly than other crops. Many American companies use hemp products, but must import them from overseas due to the federal prohibition on hemp cultivation.
If the amendment passes, government agencies will be prevented from using federal funds to interfere with states that have chosen to allow farmers to cultivate this useful plant for industrial purposes.