“High Times for Hemp in Senate Vote” by Rob Hotakainen

“High Times for Hemp in Senate Vote” by Rob Hotakainen
BY ROB HOTAKAINEN McClatchy Washington Bureau June 5, 2014 in the “Ledger-Enquirer”

By any measure, the U.S. hemp industry is playing a hot hand these days.

Retail sales of hemp products jumped by a whopping 24 percent last year, with Americans gobbling up a record amount of food, lotions, soaps, clothing, paper products and even auto parts made from hemp fiber.

While growing hemp remains illegal as a drug banned by the federal government, experimental plots have been planted in Kentucky and Colorado since Congress approved them for research purposes earlier this year.

And a bipartisan coalition is growing, with Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky boasting last year that he owns a hemp shirt and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack suggesting in March that Ukraine might ultimately provide the United States with a good supply of industrial hemp seeds.

On Thursday, the hemp industry showed its new muscle on Capitol Hill, convincing the Senate Appropriations Committee to approve a plan that would block federal agencies from spending any money to enforce anti-hemp laws in states that have received permission to grow the plant. The vote, on an amendment to a larger spending bill, was 22-8.

The proposal emerged after the Drug Enforcement Administration last month seized a shipment of Italian hemp seeds destined for Kentucky.

Eventually, the state got its seeds back, but only after filing a lawsuit against the federal government.

“DEA is a bit of a lost rogue agency. They just don’t get it,” said Eric Steenstra, the executive director of the Hemp Industries Association, a trade group that represents hundreds of hemp businesses. “They’ve been continuing to sort of have a hard time accepting the new reality.”

 

Read more here: https://www.ledger-enquirer.com/2014/06/05/3138914/high-times-for-hemp-in-senate.html#storylink=cpy

 

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