Contact CU Independent News Staff Writer Taryn Parsons at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Colorado Rep. Jared Polis along with Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, Oregon Rep. Earl Blumenauer and Kentucky Rep. Thomas Massie hosted an industrial hemp expo on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday. The expo helped foster conversation among policymakers regarding the crop’s economic potential.
Industrial hemp is used in the production of nutritional products, rope, fabric and even fuel. Hemp and marijuana both come from the cannabis sativa plant, but hemp is defined as the stalks, stems and sterilized seeds whereas marijuana is the leaves, flowers and viable seeds.
“Think rope, not dope,” Polis said.
Currently, under the Controlled Substances Act, exportation of hemp seeds over state borders is illegal, but passing the Industrial Hemp Farming Act would change that.
Polis and the other hosts of the expo are leading sponsors of the Industrial Hemp Farming Act, which would lift the federal ban on hemp and allow each state to decide for itself whether or not to cultivate the crop. The bill would also define industrial hemp based on its low levels of THC, separating it from marijuana.
“The bill would remove the federal prohibition on hemp and allow us to develop the product without risking any law-enforcement challenge and can be done lawfully and legally,” Polis said.
Colorado has been the pioneer state for many cannabis-related issues, including the farming of industrial hemp. Polis believes that the state will set a prime example as the rest of the U.S. rewrites laws concerning marijuana.
“Colorado was one of the earliest states to farm and use industrial hemp. We have an excellent structure for farmers to be approved for growing hemp,” Polis said. “Colorado’s hemp and marijuana laws provide thousands of jobs, nutritional products and healthy lifestyles for Coloradans.”
Currently, many products made with industrial hemp are being imported from overseas, but if the Industrial Hemp Farming Act is passed, more production of hemp products would be allowed in the United States, increasing its economic and environmental benefits for Americans.