Source: Tenth Amendment Center 

CONCORD, N.H. (Dec. 26, 2016) – A New Hampshire bill prefiled for the 2017 legislative session would remove the state ban on industrial hemp, setting the stage to nullify federal prohibition on the plant in practice.

A coalition of three representatives and two senators prefiled House Bill 151 (HB151). The legislation would simply remove industrial hemp from the state’s list of controlled substances. This would open the door for a full-scale commercial hemp market in the state by treating it as any other crop for farming.

HB151 would not require any license to grow hemp, and it would create no state regulatory structure. This would have a similar effect as a bill passed in Connecticut in 2015. In short, the state would treat industrial hemp like other plants, such as tomatoes. By ending state prohibition, residents in New Hampshire would have an open door to start industrial hemp farming should they be willing to risk violating ongoing federal prohibition.

FEDERAL FARM BILL

Early in 2014, President Barack Obama signed a new farm bill into law, which included a provision allowing a handful of states to begin limited research programs growing hemp. The “hemp amendment”

…allows State Agriculture Departments, colleges and universities to grow hemp, defined as the non-drug oil-seed and fiber varieties of Cannabis, for academic or agricultural research purposes, but it applies only to states where industrial hemp farming is already legal under state law.

In short, current federal law authorizes the farming of hemp – by research institutions only, for research only. Farming for commercial purposes by individuals and businesses remains prohibited. The HB151 simply ignore federal prohibition and authorize commercial farming and production in New Hampshire anyway.

OTHER STATES

By rejecting any need for federal approval, state legalization of hemp sets the stage to nullify the federal hemp ban in practice. New Hampshire could join other states – including Colorado, Oregon, Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, California and others – that have simply ignored federal prohibition and legalized industrial hemp production within their state borders.

While prospective hemp growers still have to take federal law into consideration, by eliminating the state requirement for federal permission, these laws clear away a major obstacle to widespread commercial hemp farming within the borders of the state. As more states simply ignore federal prohibition, the likelihood of federal enforcement diminishes.

Farmers in SE Colorado started harvesting the plant in 2013, and farmers in Vermont began harvesting in 2014, effectively nullifying federal restrictions on such agricultural activities. On Feb. 2 of 2015, the Oregon hemp industry officially opened for business and one week later, the first license went to a small non-profit group. As more people engage in hemp production and the market grows within these states, more people will become emboldened creating an exponential wave, ultimately nullifying the federal ban in effect.

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