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House-Passed Farm Bill OKs Industrial Hemp

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NAIHC.org, July 12, 2013 – In a breakthrough for industrial hemp, the U.S. House’s 2013 Farm Bill includes a bipartisan amendment to authorize colleges and universities to grow the crop for research purposes.

The overall Farm Bill, HR 2642, is a partisan bill which passed by a 216-208 party-line vote. Democrats uniformly opposed the bill after Republicans amended the bill to remove the Food Stamps program. But the industrial hemp provision co-sponsored by Congressmen Jared Polis (D-CO), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), and Thomas Massie (R-KY) remained in the bill thanks to solid bipartisan support.

The House’s controversial Farm Bill is likely to be rejected in the Senate which passed its own Farm Bill earlier. As with half a century of previous farm bills, the Senate version includes the “SNAP” Food Stamps program. The next step is for legislators to find some way to reconcile the Senate and House versions. The two versions are very similar in their treatment of programs for farmers and agricultural commodity support programs. The challenge will be to resolve differences over the Food Stamps program.

Rep. Polis who joined his party in voting against the House Farm Bill nonetheless celebrated the fact that the House bill includes his industrial hemp provision. After the House vote, he explained that “This commonsense amendment will allow colleges and universities to grow and cultivate industrial hemp for academic and agricultural research purposes in states where industrial hemp cultivation is already legal. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate to ensure that this language becomes law.”

The industrial hemp provision in the House Bill reads:

SEC. 6605. LEGITIMACY OF INDUSTRIAL HEMP RESEARCH.

(a) IN GENERAL.—Notwithstanding the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 801 et seq.), the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988 (41 U.S.C. 8101 et seq.), the Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act of 1986 (20 U.S.C. 7101 et seq.), or any other Federal law, an institution of higher education (as defined in section 101 of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1001)) may grow or cultivate industrial hemp if —

(1) the industrial hemp is grown or cultivated for purposes of agricultural research or other academic research; and

(2) the growing or cultivating of industrial hemp is allowed under the laws of the State in which such institution of higher education is located and such research occurs.

(b) INDUSTRIAL HEMP DEFINED.—In this section, the term ‘‘industrial hemp’’ means the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of such plant, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol [THC] concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.

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