Monday, July 24, 2017

New Industrial Hemp Farming Bill Expected from Rep. Comer

The Industrial Hemp Farming Act will finally be introduced later this week! Congressman James Comer expects to introduce his first Federal hemp bill which will have a few changes to garner more support.
  • Vote Hemp successfully advocated for provision to include tribes following the Menominee district court ruling
  • We advocated to increase THC levels and gained a compromise that allows research on hemp up to 0.6% THC
  • Chair Goodlatte added provision that requires states to make licensee address and crop location data available to state Attorney General
  • Rep. Comer has told House leadership this bill is his #1 priority and we are hopeful that it can receive a vote and pass this year
  • We expect a Senate companion bill after the House bill is introduced
The Appropriations process is underway and we have been working with Sen. Merkley and Sen. McConnell as well as Rep. Comer to ensure that pro-hemp limiting language will be included to help protect hemp pilot programs from federal agency interference. 

A number of licensed hemp farmers have been denied access to water for irrigation. We were contacted by a farmer in Montana with this problem and worked with our attorney to draft a letter informing the Bureau of Reclamation that hemp grown under the farm bill is 100% legal and they are incorrect to withhold water from Farm Bill compliant hemp growers.  

In addition, Sen. Bennet (D-CO) has introduced SB 1576 to resolve the water access issue along with 5 of his western state colleagues. This will bring more pressure for the Industrial Hemp Farming Act to be passed as it highlights the challenges Farm Bill growers face.  

We were pleased that 6 state hemp bills passed this session and 5 were signed into law (Arkansas, Florida, South Carolina, Utah and Wyoming). The Arizona bill was vetoed due to lack of funding for the Ag. Dept. to implement it.  We worked closely with activists and legislators in 3 of those states plus a number of other states where legislation or regulations didn't pass so far this year including Arizona, California, Georgia, Hawaii, Maine, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania and Texas. 

We have been doing outreach to members of Congress in states where hemp bills have passed to educate them and gain their support for the Comer bill when it drops.  So far we have met with 15 offices from Arkansas, Florida, South Carolina, Utah, Virginia and Wyoming.

We are seeing a concerning trend this year of GW Pharmaceuticals promoted state CBD legislation to classify CBD as a scheduled drug under state laws. We tracked several dozen bills that were introduced so far and worked with Bluebird Botanicals to get supporters to push back on a bill in Nebraska and were successful in getting it amended.  

We will be back in touch soon to request that you write your Representative and urge that they support the new Industrial Hemp Farming Act after it is introduced.  

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Governor Cuomo promotes Hemp products

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation on Wednesday that is aimed at promoting the growth of industrial hemp in New York.
The new law amends existing statute to ensure that industrial hemp is considered an agricultural product and is treated in the same way that other crops and seeds are, according to the bill. It establishes an industrial hemp seed certification program, authorizes industrial hemp data collection, directs state agency coordination on funding and support for hemp research and businesses, and requires the creation of an industrial hemp website to provide information and technical assistance to hemp producers and manufacturers.

"The uses are all across the board, and we can develop more," Cuomo said at a bill signing event in Ithaca, noting the production of hemp pasta. "I really believe this is going to be not just an agricultural boon if we do it right, but it will also be a manufacturing boon because the processors are all on the manufacturing side and they were really looking for someone in this country to step up and take the lead."
Cuomo proposed and won in the state budget an elimination of the 10-site cap on the number of farms that can grown and manufacture hemp.
Hemp is derived from the same plant as marijuana, but has a low level of THC, the chemical that gets users high. That has led to thick federal regulation of hemp.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Missouri Hemp Bill goes to full Senate 2017

House Bill 170, Industrial Hemp Bill, sponsored by Paul Curtman was voted on (5 for and 1 against) in the Senate Agriculture Committee.  It now goes to the full Senate floor.

Contact your Missouri State Senator Now.

Hemp for All!!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Missouri Hemp Farming 2017 (HB 170)

Missouri House committee passed a bill that would remove industrial hemp from the state’s list of controlled substances and create a program for the licensing and regulation of hemp growers and handlers. Passage into law would set the foundation to nullify the unconstitutional federal prohibition on the same, in practice.

Rep. Paul Curtman, introduced House Bill 170 (HB170) on Jan. 4. The legislation removes industrial hemp from the state’s list of controlled substances and designates it as an agricultural crop. The bill includes a “shall issue” licensing and monitoring program that would allow larger producers to cultivate hemp for commercial purposes.

On Monday, the House Agricultural Policy Committee passed HB170 by a 10-3 vote.
Under the proposed law, hemp production would be limited to fields greater then 2.5 acres, and does authorize small-scale or home grown hemp for commercial purposes. While these limitations are not ideal, a similar restriction was originally in place in Oregon. Over time as the public’s fear of hemp subsided, an effort began to get the regulations relaxed. In In 2016, Gov. Brown signed a bill into law removing any and all plot-size restrictions on commercial hemp. (learn more here)

The bill includes a provision allowing farmers to retain seeds for planting the year following a harvest. In some states, seeds are extremely hard to come by when they cannot be retained year over year and farmers have to rely on the federal Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) for their supply.
To defuse law enforcement opposition and address claims that industrial hemp would be indistinguishable from it’s sister plant, marijuana, the legislation also includes a provision which allows the Department of Agriculture to require an “Industrial Hemp Monitoring System,” which is defined in the bill as:
an electronic seed-to-sale tracking system that includes, but is not limited to, testing and data collection established and maintained by a grower or handler and available to the department for purposes of documenting and for monitoring agricultural hemp seed and industrial hemp plant development throughout the life cycle of an industrial hemp plant cultivated as an agricultural product from seed planting to final packaging.
Significantly, HB170 does not require growers to get federal permission to cultivate hemp in the state.