The Industrial Hemp Farming Act

The Industrial Hemp Farming Act - shutterstock_224205208Hemp has been harvested for nutritional and fiber purposes throughout the world for over 12,000 years. Unfortunately, hemp has been illegal to grow in the United States since 1957. Although hemp contains very little to no tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the Federal Bureau of Narcotics decided to include it in the list of illegal crops because of its family relationship to marijuana. Although some states have legalized the growing of hemp, farmers continue to hold off because they can still be found to be breaking the law federally by the Drug Enforcement Administration.

There have been numerous efforts to make legal distinctions between hemp and marijuana. The Industrial Hemp Farming Act was originally introduced in 2005 and then 2007, but each time after the bills were introduced and referred to committee, they died. The Industrial Hemp Farming Act was introduced again in 2011 and in 2013, but the same thing happened.

American farmers not being able to grow and harvest hemp has limited their ability to compete agriculturally. Nearly the entire hemp plant can be harvested and used, including the seeds, which can be consumed, pressed for oil and mixed with water to create milk, and the fibers, which are used to manufacture paper, plastic, clothing and other fabric products.

Although hemp is currently illegal to grow, it can be legally imported into the United States. Hemp seeds and oil are available at many health food stores in the US. You can also find soaps, shampoos, lotions, lip balms and other body care products that contain hemp oil. Clothing made from hemp is also available for purchase. Most of these products are manufactured by first importing hemp from other countries and then producing them in the United States, which leaves the American farmers out of the loop.

It looks like it’s just a matter of time before the US government makes growing hemp legal. In early 2014, President Obama signed the Farm Bill of 2013 into law. This law makes the distinction between industrial hemp and allows research to begin to determine whether commercial production of hemp would be beneficial to American farmers.

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