WASHINGTON - Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., introduced legislation Thursday that would allow American farmers to grow and profit from industrial hemp.
The Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2015 would remove federal restrictions on the domestic cultivation of industrial hemp. The bill would remove hemp from the Schedule I controlled substance list under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, and would define it as a non-drug so long as it contained less than 0.3 percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
Oregon and Kentucky are among 20 states that have already defined industrial hemp as distinct from marijuana and removed barriers to production. However, under current federal law, farmers in states that allow industrial hemp research and pilot programs must still seek a waiver from the Drug Enforcement Administration or risk raids and seizures by federal agents.
The U.S. is the world's largest consumer of hemp, but it remains the only major industrialized country that bans farming the product.
"The U.S. ban on hemp farming is an outrageous restriction on free enterprise and does nothing but hurt economic growth and job creation," Wyden said. "Our bipartisan, commonsense bill is pro-environment, pro-business, and pro-farmer. Congress must act to empower farmers and boost economic activity across the country. As I've always said, if you can buy it in Oregon, you should be able to grow it in Oregon."
"My vision for the farmers and manufacturers of Kentucky is to see us start growing hemp, creating jobs and leading the nation in this industry again," Paul said. "Allowing farmers throughout our nation to cultivate industrial hemp and benefit from its many uses will boost our economy and bring much-needed jobs to the agriculture industry."
"Industrial hemp has the potential to fuel jobs and research here in Oregon, and the federal government shouldn't be standing in the way," Merkley said.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., also cosponsored the bill.
The bill text is available here.