What's the Latest Development?
When Colorado voters passed Amendment 64 last fall, legalizing marijuana for recreational use, the state government was also charged to "enact legislation governing the cultivation, processing, and sale of industrial hemp." A range of proponents, including farmers, citizen advocates, and even foreign hemp executives are now pushing Congress to consider allowing the revival of a crop that was regularly produced in the US until the passing of the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 put it into the same class as its sibling. Due to the Drug Enforcement Administration's strict requirements for growing medicinal marijuana, large-scale production of hemp is all but impossible.
What's the Big Idea?
Hemp is used in a wide variety of applications, ranging from snacks to beauty products to building materials, yet 90 percent of the US' supply comes from Canada. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) cites economics as the reason he plans to back a bill this year that would separate hemp from marijuana: "Why would you say you can sell [hemp products] at your local Costco, but farmers around the world get to make most of the money?" Since 1999, 11 states have loosened barriers on hemp production and/or research; this past Friday "the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce voted to back a Senate bill that would sanction hemp farming."
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