Vote Hemp, the nation’s leading hemp grassroots advocacy organization working to revitalize industrial hemp production in the U.S., reports that on February 7, 2014, President Obama signed the Agriculture Act of 2014, the Farm Bill, into law. Section 7606 of the act, Legitimacy of Industrial Hemp Research, defines industrial hemp as distinct and authorizes institutions of higher education or state departments of agriculture in states where hemp is legal to grow hemp for research or agricultural pilot programs.
Since hemp has not been grown in the United States since 1957, there is a strong need for research to develop new varieties of hemp that grow well in various states and meet the current market demands.
Industrial hemp is the non-psychoactive, low-THC, oilseed and fiber varieties of the Cannabis sativa plant. Hemp has absolutely no use as a recreational drug.
Hemp Research & Pilot Programs Authorized in Sec. 7606 of The Farm Bill
What is industrial hemp and how is it defined in the Farm Bill?
Industrial hemp is the non-psychoactive, low-THC, oilseed and fiber varieties of the plant Cannabis sativa. Hemp has absolutely no use as a recreational drug. Section 7606 of the Farm Bill defines industrial hemp as “the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of such plant, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.”
What is the purpose of Section 7606?
The U.S. House passed the hemp amendment to the Farm Bill in order to allow research to begin on industrial hemp and determine whether commercial production of hemp would be beneficial for American farmers and businesses.
Uses and history of hemp
For thousands of years hemp was used to make dozens of commercial products like paper, rope, canvas, and textiles. In fact, the very name “canvas” comes from the Dutch word meaning cannabis. That’s correct, real canvas is made from cannabis.
Many years ago hemp was unjustly banned. However, hemp has recently been rediscovered as a plant that has enormous environmental, economic, and commercial potential. What follows are some fascinating facts about hemp – facts that will shock most people.
The potential of hemp for paper production is enormous. According to the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, one acre of hemp can produce 4 times more paper than one acre of trees. All types of paper products can be produced from hemp: newsprint, computer paper, stationery, cardboard, envelopes, toilet paper, even tampons.
Paper production from hemp would eliminate the need to chop down billions of trees, millions of acres of forests and huge areas of wildlife habitat could be preserved.
Trees must grow for 20 to 50 years after planting before they can be harvested for commercial use. Within 4 months after it is planted, hemp grows 10 to 20 feet tall and it is ready for harvesting! Hemp can be grown on most farmland throughout the U.S., where forests require large tracts of land available in few locations. Substituting hemp for trees would save forests and wildlife habitats and would eliminate erosion of topsoil due to logging. Reduction of topsoil erosion would also reduce pollution of lakes, rivers and streams.
10 Hemp facts
1. Hemp is among the oldest industries on the planet, going back more than 10,000 years to the beginnings of pottery. The Columbia History of the World states that the oldest relic of human industry is a bit of hemp fabric dating back to approximately 8,000 BC.
2. Presidents Washington and Jefferson both grew hemp. Americans were legally bound to grow hemp during the Colonial Era and Early Republic. The federal government subsidized hemp during the Second World War and US farmers grew about a million acres of hemp as part of that program.
3. Hemp Seed is far more nutritious than even soybean, contains more essential fatty acids than any other source, is second only to soybeans in complete protein (but is more digestible by humans), is high in B-vitamins, and is 35% dietary fiber. Hemp seed is not psychoactive and cannot be used as a drug. See TestPledge.com
4. The bark of the hemp stalk contains bast fibers which are among the Earth’s longest natural soft fibers and are also rich in cellulose; the cellulose and hemi-cellulose in its inner woody core are called hurds. Hemp stalk is not psychoactive. Hemp fiber is longer, stronger, more absorbent and more insulative than cotton fiber.
5. According to the Department of Energy, hemp as a biomass fuel producer requires the least specialized growing and processing procedures of all hemp products. The hydrocarbons in hemp can be processed into a wide range of biomass energy sources, from fuel pellets to liquid fuels and gas. Development of biofuels could significantly reduce our consumption of fossil fuels and nuclear power.
6. Hemp grows well without herbicides, fungicides, or pesticides. Almost half of the agricultural chemicals used on US crops are applied to cotton.
7. Hemp produces more pulp per acre than timber on a sustainable basis, and can be used for every quality of paper. Hemp paper manufacturing can reduce wastewater contamination. Hemp’s low lignin content reduces the need for acids used in pulping, and it’s creamy color lends itself to environmentally friendly bleaching instead of harsh chlorine compounds. Less bleaching results in less dioxin and fewer chemical byproducts.
8. Hemp fiber paper resists decomposition, and does not yellow with age when an acid-free process is used. Hemp paper more than 1,500 years old has been found. It can also be recycled more times.
9. Hemp fiberboard produced by Washington State University was found to be twice as strong as wood-based fiberboard.
10. Eco-friendly hemp can replace most toxic petrochemical products. Research is being done to use hemp in manufacturing biodegradable plastic products: plant-based cellophane, recycled plastic mixed with hemp for injection-molded products, and resins made from the oil, to name just a very few examples.Pharmacopoeia Borussica (1863), Otto Karl Berg, Cannabis sativa, industrial hemp
Hemp seeds are a source of nutritious high protein oil that can be used for human and animal consumption. Hemp oil is NOT intoxicating. Extracting protein from hemp is less expensive than extracting protein from soybeans. Hemp protein can be processed and flavored in any way soybean protein can. Hemp oil can also be used to make highly nutritious tofu, butter, cheese, salad oils, and other foods. Hemp oil can also be used to produce paint, varnish, ink, lubricating oils, and plastic substitutes. Because 50% of the weight of a mature hemp plant is seeds, hemp could become a significant source for these products.
Hemp is legally grown for commercial use throughout much of Europe, India, China, Russia, Ukraine. In 1994 the Canadian government approved one experimental hemp field – its first legal hemp crop in 40 years. In 1995, there will be 11 government-approved hemp fields in Canada! If the U.S. does not legalize hemp for commercial use, a significant economic and environmental opportunity will be lost; the benefits will be reaped only by our economic competitors.
How you can help make hemp legal
Vote Hemp is a national, single-issue, non-profit advocacy group founded in 2000 by members of the hemp industry to remove barriers to industrial hemp farming in the U.S. through education, legislation and advocacy. They work to build grassroots support for hemp through voter education, registration and mobilization, as well as defend against any new laws, regulations or policies that would prohibit or restrict hemp trade.
There are many things that you can do. We will try to list as many things as we can below. Please pick and choose what you have time for and come back every so often for more ideas.
Call Your Senators
Click here for your Senators’ phone numbers and our easy to use script. Please follow the instructions to call your Senators and encourage them to become a cosponsor of S. 359, or thank them if they already are a cosponsor and ask them to work for a committee hearing for the bill. Remember to share this action with colleagues, friends and family, too.
Write to Your Senators in Congress
Click here and use our pre-written email to contact your Senators and encourage them to cosponsor of Senator Ron Wyden’s industrial hemp farming bill, S. 359. Remember to share your action with colleagues, friends and family. If you receive a reply letter please send it to us.
Call Your Representative
Click here and your Representative’s phone number and our easy to use script will be available to you to make the call. Please encourage them to become a cosponsor of H.R. 525, or thank them if they already are a cosponsor and ask them to work for a committee hearing for the bill. Remember to share this action with colleagues, friends and family as well.
Write to Your Representative in Congress
Click here to write to your Representative and encourage them to support domestic hemp farming. Please remember to share your action with colleagues, friends and family. Oh, and if you receive a reply letter please send it to us.
Take State Action
Please click here to check to see if there are any action alerts to write or call in support of state hemp legislation in your state. So far in the 2013 legislative season industrial hemp legislation has been introduced in eighteen states: Alabama, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Vermont, Washington, and West Virginia. Industrial hemp legislation is expected to be introduced in at least one more state as well: Michigan.
If you are on Facebook click here to easily write to your Senators and Representative and share at the same time.
Please Sign the New Petition to the U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Senate, and President Barack Obama
Legalize Hemp Farming in the United States. This petition was started by Hemp Industries Association member Mina Hegaard, who is the owner of the hemp clothing company Minawear.
See The Petition to the White House
On April 24, 2012, a little more than seven months after we posted our petition, the ONDCP issued a response. You can read the petition and their response here: http://wh.gov/gKH. Please click here to read an overview of the efforts being made to educate the Obama Administration on hemp.
Please click here to write to President Obama and ask him to allow states to regulate hemp farming without a DEA permit.
“Justice does not help those who slumber but helps only those who are vigilant.”
Let us stay vigilant in this effort to help making hemp legal in the US.