Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2015," with support on both sides of the political aisle. The Act would remove federal restrictions on the cultivation of industrial hemp, the non-drug oilseed and fiber varieties of Cannabis.
“With bi-partisan support in the Senate and House, we are eager to see 2015 be the year Congress finally passes comprehensive legislation to legalize industrial hemp farming,” said Eric Steenstra, president of Vote Hemp. “Historic progress has been made on the issue this past year, as farmers in Vermont, Colorado and Kentucky planted hemp in 2014 thanks to Sec. 7606 of the Farm Bill, which allowed states that have legalized the crop to grow research and pilot hemp crops.”
The Senate bill was introduced on January 8, 2015, by Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). The House bill was introduced on Wednesday, January 21, by U.S. Reps. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) and Jared Polis (D-Colo.)
“I’ve heard from countless Kentuckians about the success of our initial 2014 industrial hemp pilot programs and university studies in the Commonwealth,” said McConnell. “I am especially proud that Representative Massie and I were able to work together in making those projects possible on the federal level via the 2014 Farm Bill. I support this legislation and look forward to seeing industrial hemp prosper in the Commonwealth.”The 2014
Farm Bill permitted these pilot programs in states that have already passed laws allowing the cultivation of industrial hemp. Currently, this applies to 21 states, including Kentucky, that have defined hemp as distinct from drug varieties of Cannabis like marijuana.
"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. 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,” Paul said.
Other states that can currently take advantage of the pilot program and could benefit from the passage of this bill include California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Washington, and West Virginia.
However, only three of these states, Colorado, Kentucky, and Vermont, planted hemp research crops in 2014.
According to Vote Hemp, H.R. 525 was introduced with 47 co-sponsors, a record for this type of legislation. Co-sponsors include Amash (R-Mich.), Barr (R-Ky.), Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Bonamici (D-Ore.), Buck (R-Colo.), Cartwright (D-Penn.), Clay (D-Mo.), Cohen (D-Tenn.), Cramer (R-N.D.), DeFazio (D-Ore.), DeGette (D-Colo.), DeLauro (D-Conn.), DelBene (D-Wash.), Ellison (D-Minn.), Farr (D-Calif.), Gabbard (D-Hawaii), Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Hanna (R-N.Y.), Holmes-Norton (D-DC), Honda (D-Calif.), Labrador (R-Idaho), Lee (D-Calif.), Lofgren (D-Calif.), McClintock (R-Calif.), McCollum (D-Minn.), McDermott (D-Wash.), Mulvaney (R-S.C.), Nadler (D-N.Y.), O’Rourke (D-Texas), Perry (R-Penn.), Peterson (D-Minn.), Pingree (D-Maine), Pocan (D-Wis.), Polis (D-Colo), Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), Ryan (D-Ohio), Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Schrader (D-Ore.), Stivers (R-Ohio), Young (R-Ind.), Walz (D-Minn.), Welch (D-Vt.), Yarmuth (D-Ky.), Yoho (R-Fla.), Young (R-Ind.), Young (R-Alaska), and Zinke (R-Mont.).