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  • February 19 2013

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    US Senate To Consider Hemp Farming Legislation For First Time

    For the first time in modern history, members of the United States Senate have introduced legislation in Congress to allow for the commercial production of industrial hemp. Last week, Senators Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Rand Paul (R-KY), and Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced Senate Bill 359 to amend the US Controlled Substances Act to exclude industrial hemp from the definition of marijuana. The measure grants state legislatures the authority to license and regulate the commercial production of hemp as an industrial and agricultural commodity.

    Senator McConnell is the Senate minority leader. He is a former opponent of hemp law reform.

    “I am convinced that allowing [hemp] production will be a positive development for Kentucky’s farm families and economy,” Sen. McConnell said in a statement. “The utilization of hemp to produce everything from clothing to paper is real, and if there is a capacity to center a new domestic industry in Kentucky that will create jobs in these difficult economic times, that sounds like a good thing to me.”

    Senate Bill 359 is the companion bill to House Bill 525, the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2013. That measure has 28 co-sponsors.

    Eight states — Colorado, Maine, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia — have enacted statutory changes defining industrial hemp as distinct agricultural product and allowing for its regulated commercial production. Passage of HR 525/S 359 would remove existing federal barriers and allow these states and others the authority to do so without running afoul of federal anti-drug laws.

    According to a Congressional Research Service report, “The United States is the only developed nation in which industrial hemp is not an established crop.”

    Additional information regarding HR 525/S 359 is available from NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’ here.

  • February 19 2013

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    New England in MPP’s Future

    The Boston Herald reported today that lawmakers in New England have been emboldened by the 2012 victories in Colorado and Washington. Rhode Island, Maine, and Massachusetts are addressing the prospect of taxation and regulation of marijuana. Vermont is considering decriminalization, and New Hampshire is pushing to legalize medical marijuana.

    While the reform discussion isn’t entirely new in the northeast – Rep. Ellen Story (D-MA)Ellen Story has submitted multiple bills in the past – MPP is optimistic about present and future measures in the region and is lending its support. MPP’s communications manager, Morgan Fox, told the Herald, “We’ve just won the first two victories in what’ll be a long road. The wind’s at our back now.”

  • February 19 2013

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    The DC’s Jamie Weinstein: Legal Hemp Not Far Enough

    Yesterday, conservative political blog The Daily Caller published a story about an industrial hemp bill introduced by Kentucky Senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul, with a number of bipartisan co-sponsors. This bill would allow American farmers to grow hemp, which is the non-psychoactive cousin of marijuana, without fear of arrest.

    In a digest email sent to subscribers, Daily Caller senior editor Jamie Weinstein opined:

    Why not go all the way and push to legalize the drug variety of the cannabis plant, also known as pot, weed, marijuana, etc. It is not only nonsensical to send people to jail for possessing pot, it’s immoral. If the GOP would wise up and take the lead on this issue, they could potentially make inroads with the youth vote.

    jweinstein

    Jamie Weinstein

    Let’s hope more conservatives start to come around to this point of view. Considering the implications for limited government, state’s rights, and fiscal responsibility that come with the end of marijuana prohibition, this is an issue which those on the right-leaning side of the political spectrum should be lining up to support.