Bipartisan industrial hemp bill introduced in congress with support of Texas representative
Today, Congressman Thomas Massie (R-KY), Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO), and a bipartisan coalition of 45 lawmakers introduced federal legislation that requires the federal government to respect state laws allowing cultivation of industrial hemp. The Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2015 (H.R. 525) amends the Controlled Substances Act to exclude industrial hemp from the definition of marijuana.
“I’m optimistic that we can get the Industrial Hemp Farming Act to the President’s desk this Congress,” said Representative Massie. “In 2014, for the first time in over half a century, hemp was grown and harvested in Kentucky under the pilot programs allowed by the Polis-Massie-Blumenauer amendment to the 2014 Farm Bill. I look forward to building on last year’s momentum to give our nation’s farmers and manufacturers more opportunities to compete and succeed in the global economy.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who cosponsored the Senate version, said, “I’ve heard from countless Kentuckians about the success of our initial 2014 industrial hemp pilot programs and university studies in the Commonwealth. I am especially proud that Rep. Massie and I were able to work together in making those projects possible on the federal level via the 2014 Farm Bill. I support this legislation and look forward to seeing industrial hemp prosper in the Commonwealth.”
“I’m excited to join with Representative Massie to introduce common-sense, bipartisan legislation that will once again allow American farmers to benefit from industrial hemp,” said Representative Jared Polis. “The federal ban on hemp has been a waste of taxpayer dollars that ignores science, suppresses innovation, and subverts the will of states that have chosen to incorporate this versatile crop into their economies. I am hopeful that Congress will build on last year’s progress on hemp research and pilot programs by passing the Industrial Hemp Farming Act to allow this historical American crop to once again thrive on our farmlands.”
“From the first day I took office, I’ve worked with a bipartisan group of partners to unlock the potential of industrial hemp to create jobs and farm income,” Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer said. “We’ve made tremendous strides in a short time, but now we need to take the next step and make hemp production legal for anyone who wants to grow and process it. Rep. Massie has stood side by side with us from the beginning, and I appreciate all his efforts to get this done.”
“Voters across the country have made it clear that they believe industrial hemp should be regulated as an agricultural commodity, not a drug,” said Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), a key Member in passing the Polis-Massie-Blumenauer amendment to the Farm Bill. “Last Congress, we made it clear that a majority of our colleagues feel the same way by passing an amendment to the Farm Bill allowing colleges and universities to grow industrial hemp for research purposes in states where it is already legal to do so. This legislation, the Industrial Hemp Farming Act, is the critical next step, while at the same time creating meaningful jobs and restoring an important industry in the U.S.”
“The American family farmer is the backbone of this nation,” said Michael Lewis, a Rockcastle County, Ky., farmer who participated in a hemp pilot project in 2014. “With farmers struggling with rising expenses and declining prices for traditional crops, restoring the right to grow one of our nation’s historic cash crops makes sense. The time has come to remove the draconian regulations surrounding industrial hemp and enable the American farmer to rebuild our rural economy.”
Kentucky made significant progress on this issue in 2014 under the leadership of Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer at the state level and Senate Majority Leader McConnell, Senator Paul, and Representative Massie at the federal level. In early 2014, the President signed into law a Farm Bill that contained an expanded Polis-Massie-Blumenauer amendment allowing research institutions and state agriculture departments to grow and cultivate industrial hemp in states where it is already legal to do so.
Additionally, last December’s CR/Omnibus included Congressman Massie’s amendment to further support the hemp pilot projects enabled by the Farm Bill. The Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2015 would finally remove the legal barriers that have prohibited the cultivation of hemp for commercial purposes.
Only one representative from Texas has co-sponsored the bill, Beto O’Rourke, a Democrat from El Paso.