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  • 07 Feb 2013 11:50 AM | Anonymous

    H.R. 525, the Industrial Hemp Farming Act, and Senate Companion Bill Promise Economic Opportunity by Removing Restrictions on Industrial Hemp Farming in the United States

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — This week, Representatives Thomas Massie (R-KY) and Kurt Schrader (D-OR) introduced H.R. 525, the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2013, with a total of twenty-eight original co-sponsors. Later this month, Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Rand Paul (R-KY) are expected to introduce a Senate companion bill to H.R. 525. If passed, the bills would remove federal restrictions on the cultivation of industrial hemp, the non-drug oilseed and fiber varieties of Cannabis. The language of the bills mirror each other. The full text of the bills, their current status and a list of co-sponsors may be found at:http://votehemp.com/legislation

    "Industrial hemp is a sustainable crop and could be a great economic opportunity for Kentucky farmers," says Rep. Massie. "My wife and I are raising our children on the tobacco and cattle farm where my wife grew up. Tobacco is no longer a viable crop for many of us in Kentucky, and we understand how hard it is for a family farm to turn a profit these days. Industrial hemp will give small farmers another opportunity to succeed."

    Rep. Massie is picking up where former Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), who introduced the previous four versions of the Industrial Hemp Farming Act in Congress, left off. Rep. Massie's home state of Kentucky is currently embroiled in a heated debate, as momentum grows to bring back hemp farming and processing in the state. Efforts by Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, who recently reinstated the Kentucky Industrial Hemp Commission, have the support of Senators Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

    H.R. 525 is the fifth time a bill has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives in support of industrial hemp farming since the federal government outlawed it in this country forty-three years ago. The bill was first introduced in 2005 by Rep. Ron Paul in the House, and the current version already has the bipartisan support of eight Republicans and twenty-one Democrats. If passed, H.R. 525 would remove federal restrictions on the cultivation of industrial hemp by defining it as distinct from "marihuana" and allowing its farming and processing in accordance with state law.

    To date, thirty-one states have introduced pro-hemp legislation and nineteen have passed such legislation. Eight states (Colorado, Maine, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia) have defined industrial hemp as distinct and removed barriers to its production. Three states (Hawaii, Kentucky and Maryland) have passed bills creating commissions or authorizing hemp research. Nine states (California, Colorado, Illinois, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Vermont and Virginia) have passed hemp resolutions. Six states (Arkansas, Maine, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Carolina and Vermont) have passed hemp study bills. However, despite state authorization to grow hemp, farmers in those states still risk raids by federal agents, prison time, and property and asset forfeiture if they plant the crop, due to the failure of federal policy to distinguish non-drug oilseed and fiber varieties of Cannabis (i.e., industrial hemp) from psychoactive drug varieties (i.e., "marihuana").

    "We are very pleased to see action being taken in both the House and Senate, as well as in many state houses, on the issue of allowing American farmers to once again grow this versatile, sustainable and profitable crop. American farmers are being denied the right to grow a crop that our Founding Fathers considered essential to our nation's well-being," says Eric Steenstra, President of Vote Hemp, the nation's leading single-issue advocacy group dedicated to re-commercializing industrial hemp. "It is imperative now that other Representatives and Senators co-sponsor these bills, and that President Obama and Attorney General Holder also issue waivers to allow American farmers to grow hemp under state law where legal. With the U.S. hemp industry valued at over $452 million in annual retail sales, and growing, a change in federal policy to once again allow hemp farming would mean instant job creation, among many other economic and environmental benefits," adds Steenstra.

    U.S. companies that manufacture or sell products made with hemp include Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps, a California company that manufactures the number-one-selling natural soap in the U.S., as well as best-selling hemp food manufacturers, such as Living Harvest, Manitoba Harvest, Nature's Path, Navitas, Nutiva and Sequel Naturals. All of these companies have no choice but to make their products from hemp grown in Canada or other countries. Sustainable hemp seed, fiber and oil are also used as raw materials by major companies, such as Ford Motors, Patagonia and The Body Shop, to make a wide variety of products.

    H.R. 525 was introduced by chief sponsors Rep. Massie (R-KY) and Rep. Schrader (D-OR), with twenty-eight original co-sponsors: Rep. Schrader (D-OR), Rep. Polis (D-CO), Rep. Blumenauer (D-OR), Rep. Hanna (R-NY), Rep. Rohrabacher (R-CA), Rep. Farr (D-CA), Rep. Grijalva (D-AZ), Rep. Amash (R-MI), Rep. DeFazio (D-OR), Rep. Ellison (D-MN), Del. Holmes Norton (D-DC), Rep. Clay (D-MO), Rep. Cohen (D-TN), Rep. Moran (D-VA), Rep. Bonamici (D-OR), Rep. Pingree (D-ME), Rep. Yarmuth (D-KY), Rep. Peterson (D-MN), Rep. Benishek (R-MI), Rep. McClintock (R-CA), Rep. Campbell (R-CA), Rep. Lee (D-CA), Rep. Pocan (D-WI), Rep. Schakowsky (D-IL), Rep. Nadler (D-NY), Rep. Miller (D-CA), Rep. McDermott (D-WA) and Rep. Yoho (R-FL).

    # # #

    Vote Hemp is a national, single-issue, non-profit organization dedicated to the acceptance of and a free market for low-THC industrial hemp and to changes in current law to allow U.S. farmers to once again grow this agricultural crop. More information about hemp legislation and the crop's many uses may be found at www.VoteHemp.com or www.TheHIA.org. Video footage of hemp farming in other countries is available upon request by contacting Lauren Stansbury at 402-540-1208 or lauren@wearemovementmedia.com.



  • 07 Feb 2013 11:35 AM | Anonymous

    Hemp Industries Association Members Available for Interview Regarding Hemp Farming and the Passage of Initiative 502 and Amendment 64

    WASHINGTON, D.C — Hemp industry leaders have recently seen an upsurge of inquiry into the possibilities for hemp farming and processing in Colorado and Washington State since the November 2012 election in which voters passed Initiative 502 and Amendment 64. The passing of the two initiatives legalized marijuana for recreational use on the state level in each of those states. Both of these measures had components that addressed the issue of industrial hemp farming. Initiative 502 changed the definition of marijuana in Washington state to exclude Cannabis "with a THC concentration less than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis," which many other states have used as the definition of industrial hemp. Colorado voters went a step further. Amendment 64 not only defined industrial hemp but it also included a provision stating, "Not later than July 1, 2014, the General Assembly shall enact legislation governing the cultivation, processing and sale of industrial hemp."

    Hemp legislation is expected to be introduced in Colorado soon to help create regulations for hemp farming as required in Amendment 64. "I am excited about the potential opportunity for Colorado farmers," says Eric Steenstra, HIA Executive Director, "but it is important for the public to understand that the market can't develop properly until federal law is changed allowing domestic sources of pedigreed seed, crop insurance, and support and research from Colorado agriculture universities and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) into hemp varieties which will grow well in Colorado latitude, altitude, and soil."

    Canada reestablished their hemp industry in 1998 and it has grown over the past 15 years from just over 5,000 acres to over 50,000 acres licensed for hemp cultivation in 2012. According to the Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance (CHTA) there are about 200 hemp farmers across the country. The CHTA forecasts that hemp production will nearly double by 2015 to 100,000 acres.

    A realistic picture of what farmers and processors of industrial hemp in Colorado can expect economically initially depends on the actions of the federal government. As the industry develops farmers working with seed breeders and manufacturers can expect reasonable returns on their investments, but are cautioned to plant crops which are contracted to processors to meet their needs rather than growing hemp on speculation.

    The Hemp Industries Association (HIA) is a membership-based nonprofit trade group, which represents the interests of the hemp industry and encourages the research and development of new products made from industrial hemp, the low-THC oilseed and fiber varieties of Cannabis. The organization formed in 1994 and is the only U.S. nonprofit trade group representing actual hemp businesses.

    America has a long history with industrial hemp farming which dates back to colonial times. It was once an important and profitable crop for American farmers and processors. America is currently the largest importer of hemp products primarily from Canada, Europe, and China. U.S. sales in 2012 are estimated by HIA at $156 million for hemp foods and body care.

    Industrial hemp has not been grown on a commercial scale on U.S. soil since 1957 and unfortunately all the genetics from original American varieties, many of which were developed by USDA plant breeder Lyster Dewey, have been lost.

    The HIA is hosting a Symposium on Industrial Hemp Farming at The Ranch in Loveland, CO on March 21st from 6-9:30 pm. Speakers will discuss how hemp is grown and processed, as well as markets for hemp and realistic expectations for farmers who are interested in growing the crop. The legal and political status of hemp at the state and federal level will also be discussed. Featured speakers will include Shaun Crew, President of Hemp Oil Canada which is Canada's largest hemp processor, Anndrea Hermann, Agrologist and hemp farming expert, Eric Steenstra, President of Vote Hemp a national non profit lobbying group, Summer Star, COO of EnviroTextiles, which is headquartered in Glenwood Springs, CO and is the leading developer/importer/exporter of hemp textiles. Sen. Gail Schwartz and Sen. Kevin Lundberg have also been invited.

    New Federal hemp legislation was introduced in Congress on February 6, 2013. Introduced by Representative Thomas Massie (R-KY) and Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-KY), H.R. 525, the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2013, has 28 original co-sponsors. For more information, see:http://votehemp.com/legislation

    Industrial hemp legislation has been introduced in Hawaii, Indiana, Kentucky, New Hampshire, and Vermont, and four to six other states are expected to introduce additional bills during the 2013 legislative season.


  • 19 Sep 2012 11:25 AM | Anonymous

    WASHINGTON, DC — The Hemp Industries Association (HIA), a non-profit trade association consisting of hundreds of hemp businesses, has released final estimates of the size of the U.S. retail market for hemp products in 2011. Data supporting the estimates shows that retail sales of hemp food and body care products in the United States continued to set records in 2011, reaching $43.5 million. Sales of popular hemp items like non-dairy milk, shelled hemp seed, soaps and lotions have occurred against the backdrop of increasing grassroots pressure to allow hemp to be grown domestically once again for U.S. processors and manufacturers. Sales in conventional retailers in particular are estimated to have grown by 11% in 2011.

    The sales data, collected by the market research firm SPINS, was obtained from natural and conventional food retailers, excluding Whole Foods Market and certain other establishments, who do not provide sales data — and thus underestimates actual sales by a factor of at least three. According to the SPINS data, combined U.S. hemp food and body care sales grew in the sampled stores by 7.3%, or $2.98 million, over the previous year ending December 26, 2011 to a total of $43.5 million.

    Due to significant sales excluded from the SPINS data, such as The Body Shop, Whole Foods Market and restaurants, as well as the fact that many unreported leading mass-market brands of suntan lotion and sunscreen products include hemp oil, the HIA estimates the total retail value of hemp food, supplement and body care sales in the U.S. to be in the range of $130-152 million for 2011.

    "The HIA is confident that the total U.S. hemp food and body care market over the last year [2011] accounted for at least $130 million in retail sales," says David Bronner, President of Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps which uses hemp oil in its top-selling products.

    "According to data released by the Canadian government, hemp production in Canada almost doubled in 2011, with total acreage growing to 38,828 acres," says Eric Steenstra, HIA Executive Director. "The HIA estimates the total retail value of hemp products sold in the U.S. at $452 million, when including clothing, auto parts, building materials and various other products. Steady growth in hemp product sales, combined with a substantial increase in acreage in Canadian hemp fields, further validates U.S. farmers' concerns that they are being shut out of the lucrative hemp market that Canadian farmers have cashed in on for over a decade now," continues Steenstra.

    In August of 2012, Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR), Rand Paul (R-KY), Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) introduced S. 3501, the Senate companion bill to H.R. 1831, the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2011. If passed, the bill would remove federal restrictions on the domestic cultivation of industrial hemp, defined as the non-drug oilseed and fiber varieties of Cannabis. The language of the Senate bill mirrors that of H.R. 1831, which was introduced in the House earlier in this session. The full text of the bill, as well as its status and a list of co-sponsors, can be found at: http://www.votehemp.com/legislation.

    "Introducing this bill is the first step towards a common sense policy on hemp that helps create American jobs," says Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR). "It is vital that all advocates for industrial hemp redouble their efforts to win support in Congress, if we are going to reestablish this economically important crop."

    Note: As of June this year, the market research firm SPINS has adjusted their original estimate of 2010 U.S. retail sales of hemp products from natural and conventional food retailers to $40.5 million.

    # # #

    Vote Hemp is a national, single-issue, non-profit organization dedicated to the acceptance of and a free market for low-THC industrial hemp and to changes in current law to allow U.S. farmers to once again grow this agricultural crop. More information about hemp legislation and the crop's many uses may be found at www.VoteHemp.com or www.TheHIA.org. Video footage of hemp farming in other countries is available upon request by contacting Lauren Stansbury at 402-540-1208 or lauren@wearemovementmedia.com .


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