Frankfort, KY: Democrat Gov. Steve Beshear has permitted legislation regarding the regulation of industrial hemp to become law without his signature.
The measure, Senate Bill 50, encourages state-sponsored research pertaining to the cultivation of industrial hemp and imposes regulations to allow for the plant's licensed production as an agricultural commodity.
Hemp is a distinct variety of the plant species cannabis sativa that contains only minute (less than one percent) amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. Farmers worldwide grow hemp commercially for fiber, seed, and oil for use in a variety of industrial and consumer products, including food and clothing. The United States is the only developed nation that fails to cultivate industrial hemp as an economic crop, according to the Congressional Resource Service.
Eight additional states - Colorado, Maine, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia - have enacted statutory changes defining industrial hemp as distinct agricultural product. To date, however, no American farmers are engaged in large-scale cultivation of the crop because doing so without a federal license is in violation of the United States Controlled Substances Act.
Federal legislation, the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2013, to amend the Controlled Substances Act to exclude industrial hemp from the definition of marijuana is pending in both the US Senate and House of Representatives.
For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director, or Erik Altieri, NORML Communications Director, at (202) 483-5500.