Hemp: America’s Growing Opportunity

By: David Heacock

The use of industrial hemp has a rich heritage in America of providing people with inventive, affordable, and sustainable solutions to the needs of society. So, why has hemp production been virtually prohibited for decades in the U.S.?

Even though smoking hemp does not get a person ”high,” hemp’s biological similarity to marijuana caused it to be lumped in with marijuana at the creation of the federal drug war in the 1930s. Ironically, while the push for marijuana legalization has made considerable gains in recent years, hemp has largely been left out of the picture despite the surplus of economic benefits it could bring to the struggling U.S. economy.

Fortunately, we now have a chance to advocate for hemp’s legalization and provide thousands of farmers and entrepreneurs access to the benefits of this plant.

On Monday, the Kentucky Senate Agriculture Committee unanimously passed a bill to legalize the industrial production of hemp in Kentucky, providing it is declassified as a controlled substance at the federal level. Both Senator Rand Paul and Representative Thomas Massie of Kentucky support legislation (H.R. 525 in the House) that would do just that – redefine hemp as separate from marijuana and give states the ability to regulate the plant as they see fit.

There’s absolutely no reason to have a plant regulated at the federal level. And the opportunity costs sacrificed by hemp’s prohibition are just too large to ignore. According to the Congressional Research Service, the United States is the only developed country that has not established hemp as an agricultural crop.

You can help promote common-sense legislation like H.R. 525 by asking your representative to support the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2013. Passage of this bill would allow Kentucky and other states down the road to increase production and employment, as well as reap all the benefits hemp has to offer.

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