After a century of prohibition, hemp is once again taking root in American soil. With the passing of the 2014 federal farm bill (section 7606), farmers in states with industrial hemp legislation are allowed to grow and harvest hemp in conjunction with their state departments of agriculture for research through pilot programs.
Kentucky, Colorado, and Vermont all planted small research crops in 2014. As these states plant for a second year, many others, including Tennessee and Oregon, have passed hemp legislation and are planting their inaugural round of hemp crops.
To date, 33 states and Puerto Rico have introduced pro-hemp legislation, and 24 states have defined industrial hemp as distinct from other strains of cannabis and removed barriers to its production.
In January of 2015, the Industrial Hemp Farming Act was introduced in the House and Senate, H.R. 525and S. 134. If passed, all current restrictions on the cultivation of industrial hemp would be removed, along with its classification as a Schedule 1 controlled substance.
Industrial hemp is legal to grow in more than 30 countries. The United States is one of the few industrialized nations that does not currently allow the cultivation of hemp. Millions of dollars worth of hemp is imported into the United States each year in order to fulfill the growing demand for hemp products. The annual retail sales for hemp products was estimated at $620 million in 2014. Much of it is being sourced from Canada, China, and other countries.
Some states have included market development in their hemp legislation, which allows farmers to profit from their crops and for products to be sourced from American-grown hemp. If the Hemp Farming Act passes, the hemp market would be allowed to flourish without intervention from the federal government. American farmers deserve the right to grow and profit from hemp once more, don’t you think?