Day-long symposium featuring Montel Williams, James Woolsey showcases historic crop’s economic potential

Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO), Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), and Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) today hosted an Industrial Hemp expo at the U.S. Capitol bringing together leading policymakers and entrepreneurs in the movement to restore industrial hemp to American agriculture. The expo, which drew more than 100 visitors, featured television personality Montel Williams and former CIA Director and Ambassador James Woolsey as keynote speakers, and showcased more than a dozen small businesses that make products utilizing industrial hemp.

“Visitors at today’s expo saw firsthand the incredible economic opportunities we’re depriving our nation by leaving in place the outdated ban on industrial hemp production,” Polis said. “Hemp is renowned throughout the world for its versatility, which makes it highly sought after for use in fabric, construction material, biofuels, rope, paper, healthy foods, cosmetics, and thousands of other products. We need to pass the Industrial Hemp Farming Act so that America’s farmers and innovators can finally start participating in this booming global industry, creating jobs for Americans and reducing prices for consumers.”

“If it’s legal for somebody to buy it in Oregon, it ought to be legal for the Oregon farmer to grow it and sell it to local businesses in Oregon,” Wyden said. “Today’s ‘Hemp on the Hill’ expo showed just some of the vast potential of the hemp industry, and I’m going to be working to build on the increasing momentum to pass the bipartisan Industrial Hemp Farming Act and lift the ban on industrial hemp farming in our country.”

“Since the years of our Founding Fathers, industrial hemp has been used in foods, textiles, building materials, and much more. It’s absolutely ridiculous that because of an outdated War on Drugs mentality, the cultivation of industrial hemp remains illegal at the federal level,” Blumenauer said. “Across the country and across the aisle, attitudes toward industrial hemp are rightly changing, and over half of all states have now legalized its production. Now more than ever, we have a real opportunity to pass legislation to remove this outdated ban. Let’s seize the moment.”

Hemp is used in thousands of products throughout the world, but because it is classified as marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act – even though it is non-psychoactive and has no use as a recreational drug – its cultivation is prohibited in the United States.

Polis, Wyden, Blumenauer, and Massie are leading sponsors of the Industrial Hemp Farming Act (H.R. 525/S. 134), which would lift the federal ban on hemp and leave the decision about whether to allow its cultivation up to each state. In 2014, Polis passed an amendment to the Farm Bill allowing universities and state agricultural departments to launch industrial hemp research programs. In December 2015, an amendment sponsored by Massie prohibiting the Drug Enforcement Administration from interfering in state-legal industrial hemp research programs was included in the government-funding bill that became law.

 James Miller, Partner

Total Spectrum/Steve Gordon & Associates