Congress blocks federal intervention in states where hemp is legal
An amendment included in the spending bill recently passed by congress effectively blocks federal agencies from interfering with hemp growing efforts in states where the industrial plant has been legalized.
Vote Hemp, the nation’s leading grassroots hemp advocacy organization working to change state and federal laws to allow commercial hemp farming, supports the inclusion of a hemp amendment in the congressional omnibus budget bill. Passed by both the House and the Senate Appropriations Committee, the 2014 Commerce, Justice and Sciences (CJS) appropriations bill includes an historic amendment to prohibit the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) from spending funds “in contravention of Section 7606” of the 2014 Farm Bill. The hemp language in the CJS bill was offered as an amendment in the House by Rep. Massie (R-KY) and passed by a vote of 246-162. A similar amendment was offered by Rep. Bonamici (D-OR) and passed by a vote of 237-170. A companion amendment was offered in the Senate Appropriations Committee by Sen. Merkley (D-OR) and passed by a vote of 22-8.
Section 7606 of the Farm Bill, also known as The Legitimacy of Industrial Hemp Research amendment, defines industrial hemp and authorizes research and pilot programs in states that have legalized the crop.
The passage of this CJS hemp amendment and its inclusion in the final omnibus bill was a result of support from a number of members including Senators McConnell, Merkley, Leahy and Tester, as well as Representatives Massie and Bonamici. The omnibus budget bill now heads to President Obama’s desk where he is expected to sign it.
“Last spring the DEA wasted precious taxpayer resources when it confiscated a shipment of hemp seeds intended for a pilot project in Kentucky,” said Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY). “By defunding further DEA interference, this amendment saves taxpayer dollars and gives states and research institutions the freedom to pursue hemp pilot programs.”
“We applaud this Congress for protecting the rights of states that seek to begin or have already implemented hemp pilot programs,” said Eric Steenstra, President of Vote Hemp. “By approving this measure, Congress is sending a clear message to DEA that it should respect the law and work cooperatively with states to allow them to conduct hemp research and pilot programs.”
To date, eighteen states have defined industrial hemp as distinct and removed barriers to its production. These states are able to take immediate advantage of the industrial hemp research and pilot program provision, Section 7606 of the Farm Bill: California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Washington, and West Virginia. In 2014, three states, Colorado, Kentucky, and Vermont, planted hemp research crops.
In all, 12 representatives from Texas voted in favor of the amendment, including four Republicans and eight Democrats. Find each individual representative’s vote here.