Earlier this week, the U.S. Senate adopted legislation that recognizes “the growing economic potential of industrial hemp” stating how the plant has “historical relevance.” The measure immediately passed, and faced no objection from any representative of either party. It also designates June 4th – 10th as Hemp History Week.
Even though the resolution does nothing to remove the illegality of hemp at the federal level, at least lawmakers are finally noting how hemp is one of the most useful and profitable crops in existence. Popular Mechanics called hemp a ‘billion dollar crop’ in the 1930’s, right before the Reefer Madness era sunk its nasty teeth into U.S. politics and mainstream culture. According to Forbes, the United States is the largest consumer of hemp products in the world.
“Despite the legitimate uses of hemp, many agricultural producers of the United States are prohibited under current law from growing hemp,” the measure reads. “Because most hemp cannot be grown legally in the United States, raw hemp material and hemp products are imported for sale in the United States. The United States is the only major industrialized country that restricts hemp farming.”
This measure is a bit curious, however, as it doesn’t push for the legalization of hemp – it simply recognizes its profitability and historical significance. Essentially, this piece of legislation points out the hypocrisy of more than 80 years of cannabis/ hemp prohibition, without actually admitting the government had anything to do with it.
“Industrial hemp is an agricultural commodity that has been used for centuries to produce many innovative industrial and consumer products, including soap, fabric, textiles, construction materials, clothing, paper, cosmetics, food, and beverages,” the resolution continues. “Industrial hemp holds great potential to bolster the agricultural economy of the United States.”
Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR), Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Rand Paul (R-KY) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) sponsored the legislation. The measure estimates that hemp imported into the U.S. for use in retail products has an annual value of $76,000,000 and that an annual market value of fully legal industrial hemp is worth more than $668 million.
Hopefully this will push us closer to the end of prohibition of the cannabis plant, spread awareness of the many uses of hemp, and encourage more farmers to apply for licenses to grow. In the future, it would be great to see some historical hemp facts taught in some schools that are still in session during Hemp History Week.