Vermont House Of Representatives Approves Hemp Cultivation Legislation

Legislation that proposes to permit development of a domestic hemp industry in Vermont (H.783) was approved by the House of Representatives by a voice vote today. The bill had received wide-scale bi-partisan support one day earlier when the second reading was approved by a 108-33 vote. The overwhelming number of votes in favor of the legislation would override the GovernorÌs veto if he chooses to oppose it. In the past, Gov. Howard B. Dean has spoken out against hemp cultivation claiming that it would be tantamount to legalizing marijuana.

The Vermont legislation is similar to a pending Colorado hemp bill introduced by Senator Lloyd Casey (D-Northglenn) and would authorize the University of Vermont to undertake research of industrial hemp production in the state. A key aspect of this research would include growing test plots of industrial hemp.

The bill is expected to go to the Senate after session tomorrow barring any last minute calls for reconsideration. Legislators note that there appears to be little opposition for the proposal in the Senate.

Sen. Thomas Bahre (R-Addison), chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee told the Vermont Times that he hopes to begin taking testimony on the bill as soon as March 18. “We want to seriously look at whether there is anybody out there to buy this fiber, and what its potential is to create manufacturing jobs,” he said. “If it doesn’t then I don’t see a need to go any further. But, I do think this fiber has the potential to have land produce something that isn’t producing milk.”

Often described as “marijuana’s misunderstood cousin,” industrial hemp is from the same plant species that produces marijuana. Unlike marijuana, however, industrial hemp has only minute amounts of delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), The psychoactive ingredient that gives marijuana its euphoric properties. Industrial hemp is currently grown legally throughout much of Europe and Asia and can be used to produce a variety of products such as cosmetics, textiles, paper, paints, plastics, and animal feed.

For more information about industrial hemp, please contact either Allen St. Pierre or Paul Armentano of NORML at (202) 483-5500.