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Congress Votes To Loosen Federal Restrictions On Cultivating Hemp

Thursday, 06 February 2014

Congress Votes To Loosen Federal Restrictions On Cultivating Hemp

Washington, DC: Members of the US House and Senate have approved an amendment in the federal Farm Bill loosening federal restrictions pertaining to the state-authorized cultivation of industrial hemp.

House members approved the language, which had been advocated for in conference committee by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), last week. Members of the Senate followed suit on Tuesday, sending the bill to the President's desk.

President Obama is expected to sign the legislation imminently.

The amendment "authorizes an institution of higher education or state department of agriculture to grow or cultivate industrial hemp for research purposes if the laws of the State permit its growth and cultivation."

Some ten states have enacted legislation allowing for the state-authorized cultivation of hemp for research or commercial purposes.

Commenting on Congress' passage of the amendment, NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said "The approval of this language marks the first change in federal policy regarding hemp cultivation since World War II."

According to a 2013 white paper published by the United States Congressional Research Service, hemp is "genetically different" from cultivated cannabis because it contains virtually no THC. The paper stated, "[A] commercial hemp industry in the United States could provide opportunities as an economically viable alternative crop for some US growers."

United States is the only developed nation that fails to cultivate industrial hemp as an economic crop.

For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director, at (202) 483-5500 or Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: paul@norml.org.