[dropcap class=”kp-dropcap radius”]S[/dropcap]imilarly to the fight to legalize cannabis throughout the U.S., the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2015 is a campaign that aims to legalize the cultivation of industrial hemp on a federal level for use in development and production. This particular movement was most recently introduced to the Senate with SB-134 on January 8, 2015, but has yet to garner any attention by congress. So far, almost 30 states have legalized industrial hemp for production—and more are likely to do so in the future. Considering the act’s history and the rapid increase of attention to hemp as a versatile material, 2016 may finally be the “Year of Industrial Hemp.”
Over the past few years, a number of industrial hemp bills have been introduced to congress. The attempts to make industrial hemp legal have been many, largely increasing in popularity over the past decade or so. The Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2005 reached for the stars as the first bill of its kind, and aimed to define industrial hemp as different than cannabis, specifying that hemp is a cannabis sativa L. and the THC content is less than 0.3 percent, but it did not receive a hearing. Next came the proposal for the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2007, a bill with the same language as its earlier predecessor, co-sponsored by Ron Paul and 13 others—but it also did not receive a hearing. Paul brought the bill back yet again as the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2009, which also did not get a chance for a hearing or floor vote, but gathered 25 cosponsors by the end of the congressional session. Paul sponsored the bill one more time with the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2011, which was his last attempt before retiring. Impressively, by the end of the legislative congress, it had 37 cosponsors despite a lack of hearing.
To date, no Industrial Farming Acts have been made legislative progress, but there was a victory with the Agriculture Act of 2014, which was signed by President Obama. That particular Farm Bill contains Section 7606, entitled “Legitimacy of Industrial Hemp Research,” which defines the THC levels of industrial hemp as 0.3 percent or less. It also allows both universities and state agriculture departments the ability to study hemp, so long as the states they are located in has already legalized hemp. It’s not nationwide legalization by a long shot, but an important step in spreading the word.
All of these bills lead to the most recent attempt to legalize industrial hemp, with the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2015. It’s sort of a legacy bill, one of many in a long line of attempts to reach the members of congress. So far, according to the legislation tracker on Congress.gov, it was “Read twice and the referred to the Committee on the Judiciary” and has so far gained 10 cosponsors.
It’s high time that the newest version of the Industrial Farming Act be taken into consideration, and there’s still hope. The best way to get congress to recognize the newest form of industrial hemp bill is to bring attention to it. Share its status, make people aware, and visit websites like votehemp.com or www.nationalhempassociation.org for updates on the bill and how to spread awareness. The Industrial Hemp Farming Acts have come so far, and it’s about time that it gets some much needed attention. c