Vote Hemp, the nation’s leading grassroots hemp advocacy organization working to change state and federal laws to allow commercial hemp farming, is thrilled to announce the federal legalization of hemp farming in the U.S., after nearly 2 decades of the organization’s advocacy and policy leadership on the issue.
The 2018 Farm Bill, passed by Congress on December 12, 2018, and signed into law by the President on December 20, 2018, includes Section 10113 titled “Hemp Production,” which removes hemp from the Controlled Substances Act, places full federal regulatory authority of hemp with USDA, and allows State departments of agriculture to file hemp programs plans and regulate hemp cultivation per their State specific programs.
“This bill constitutes a momentous victory for the movement in support of hemp farming, and will have far-reaching positive impacts on rural economies and farming communities, increase availability of sustainable products for American consumers, and create new businesses and jobs in the hemp industry,” said Eric Steenstra, President of Vote Hemp.
“Now that we have lifted federal prohibition on hemp farming, it’s time to invest our energy in expanding hemp cultivation and the market for hemp products across the country so that all can reap the benefits of this of this versatile, historic American crop,” said Steenstra.
In addition to defining hemp as cannabis that contains no more than 0.3% THC by dry weight, the bill asserts a ‘whole plant’ definition of hemp, including plant extracts; and removes roadblocks to the rapidly growing hemp industry in the U.S., notably by authorizing and encouraging access to federal research funding for hemp, and removing restrictions on banking, water rights, and other regulatory roadblocks the hemp industry currently faces.
The bill also explicitly authorizes crop insurance for hemp. The full text of the hemp provisions in the Farm Bill of 2018 may be found at: https://www.votehemp.com/2018farmbill. For more details on the specific hemp provisions in the 2018 Farm Bill, please check out Vote Hemp’s blog post, “Hemp in the Farm Bill: What Does It Mean?”
Furthermore, per Vote Hemp advocacy on the issue, Section 10113 “Hemp Production,” expands federally legal commercial hemp cultivation to tribal lands, reservations and U.S. territories-lands that had previously been omitted in Sec. 7606 of the 2014 Farm Bill, which allowed only for hemp farming programs in ‘States.’
Vote Hemp is especially grateful for the support of Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) for leading this effort in Congress, along with 27 Senators who joined in bi-partisan co-sponsorship of the Hemp Farming Act and for the support of Rep. James Comer (R-KY), Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) and Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) who lead the effort in the in the House of Representatives.
“For too long, the outrageous and outdated ban on growing hemp has hamstrung farmers in Oregon and across the country,” Senator Ron Wyden said. “Hemp products are made in America, sold in America, and consumed in America. Now, hemp will be able to be legally grown in America, to the economic benefit of consumers and farmers in Oregon and nationwide.”
Founded in May of 2000, Vote Hemp is the longest standing, leading national single-issue non-profit organization dedicated to the revival of a free market for commercial hemp farming and manufacturing of hemp products in the U.S. In its nearly two decades of advocacy, the organization has been pivotal in the creation of policy at both the state and federal levels, educating the public about the benefits of hemp through the creation of the Hemp History Week campaign, and engaging in numerous crucial legal battles to defend U.S. hemp businesses and the American hemp market.
Notable victories for hemp that Vote Hemp played a key role in achieving in recent years include: The DEA Hemp Food Rules Challenge (2004); The North Dakota Hemp Controversy (2009); Inclusion of Sec. 7606 “The Legitimacy of Hemp Farming” in the 2013 Farm Bill; Legal Defense of Alex White Plume (2002 – 2016); and The DEA Marijuana Extracts Rule (2018).
For more information about these landmark moments in the history of Vote Hemp’s advocacy, please visit: https://www.votehemp.com/legal_cases.html. In addition, Vote Hemp worked with State legislators and advocates to help pass dozens of State hemp bills including current market leaders Kentucky, Colorado and Oregon. For more information about state hemp laws and legislation, please visit: https://www.votehemp.com/resources/state-hemp-law/.
“This monumental progress toward returning hemp to American farmlands is in large part the result of Vote Hemp’s dedication and tenacious, strategic advocacy over the last 19 years,” said David Bronner, Cosmic Engagement Officer (CEO) of Dr. Bronner’s, the top-selling brand of natural soaps in North America, that uses hemp seed oil in its products.
“Dr. Bronner’s has advocated for the legalization of hemp farming since we added hemp seed oil to our products in 1999, and fought and beat the DEA during the Hemp Food Rules Challenge from 2001 to 2004. As a maker of hemp products, we are eager to source the 20 tons of hemp seed oil we use annually from American farmers. We applaud the leadership of Eric Steenstra, truly a hemp champion, whose leadership of Vote Hemp has united hemp companies, farmers, consumers, and lawmakers into a potent fighting force for the future of hemp in America,” said Bronner.
Vote Hemp consulted with State agriculture officials and calculated that approximately 77,731 acres of hemp crops were planted across 23 states during 2018 in the U.S., 40 universities conducted research on hemp cultivation, and 3,544 State hemp licenses were issued across the country. Data from market research by Hemp Business Journal supports an estimate of total retail sales of hemp food, supplements and body care products in the United States at $553 million.
Sales of popular hemp items like non-dairy milk, shelled seed, soaps and lotions have continued to increase, complemented by successful hemp cultivation pilot programs in several states, and increasing grassroots pressure to allow hemp to be grown domestically on a commercial scale once again for U.S. processors and manufacturers.
Hemp Business Journal has also reviewed sales of clothing, auto parts, building materials and various other products, and estimates the total retail value of hemp products sold in the U.S. in 2017 to be at least $820 million. The United States is the largest consumer market for hemp products in the world.
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