Why All Cannabis Advocates Should Support Hemp Legislation

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There are quite a few cannabis-related bills in Congress. In fact, a quick search showed more than 10. My favorite is HR 499, the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act. But according to Govtrack.us, HR 499 has a zero percent chance of passing. Why? Because it was assigned to the Judiciary Committee, which is focused on crime and is stacked with staunch opponents to cannabis, medicinal or recreational.

Current hemp legislation, on the other hand, has been assigned to the Energy and Commerce Committee. Hemp has different supporters such as farmers and industry lobbyists. Cannabis is a therapeutic plant, yes, but let’s not forget that it is also used for textiles, cosmetics, rope, even construction. Americans can legally buy imported hemp products such as hemp oil, hemp fabrics, etc, provided that the hemp is grown outside the U.S. But federal law prohibits farmers in the U.S. from legally producing or selling hemp products across state lines.

Two bills would change that: HR 525, the Industrial Hemp Farming Act, and HR 5226, the Charlottes Web Medical Hemp Act. Both bills remove hemp from the DEA Schedule by excluding it from the definition of marijuana, and both do not interfere with state laws regarding production and use of marijuana. HR 525 has 49 co-sponsors and a companion bill in the senate. HR 5226 has 10 co-sponsors. Both of these bills were introduced by Republicans, the majority party, a positive step in the right direction for Congress. And at least 6 of the co-sponsors serve on the Energy and Commerce Committee, a refreshing departure from the Judiciary Committee.

These hemp bills put United States hemp farmers and sellers in a better, more competitive position against international producers. In fact, it opens a door for U.S. hemp farmers to compete at all. 22 states allow hemp production, but they can’t sell the product across state lines. And the DEA intercepted Kentucky’s hemp seeds, which shows the hurdles the hemp industry is facing.

Anyone who has bought high cannabidiol (CBD) hemp oil is painfully aware of the prices. It’s expensive, because most of it is imported from Canada and overseas, but in states where it’s legal it sells for as much as two-thirds less. Allowing U.S. hemp producers to sell nationally will improve competition and innovation.

Hemp legislation is not going to prevent or usurp any cannabis legislation. In fact, it will open a door on Capitol Hill that leads to removing stigma about the cannabis sativa plant. It’s not an either-or situation; if a person says, “I support cannabis and THC, so therefore, I’m against hemp”, it sounds ridiculous, petulant and closed-minded. Congress moves very slowly.

There is only a short time left in Congress this year for anything to happen. But a historic victory could be made for hemp this year if people act. Please contact your congressional representative and urge them to co-sponsor HR 525 and/or HR 5226. Call your representative, tell them your personal story, and request to do a press release standing with them when they co-sponsor these

Not sure of your congressional district or who your member is? This service will assist you by matching your ZIP code to your congressional district, with links to your member’s website and contact page.

For previous Ladybud articles about hemp, click here.

Photo Credit: By Bjoertvedt (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0] via Wikimedia Commons