USA: New Congressional Research Service Report Available on Industrial Hemp

Calls for Reform Prompt Investigation and Analysis by Congress

Earlier this month, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) issued a new report on the industrial hemp marketplace and legislative efforts to allow hemp farming in the United States. “Hemp as an Agricultural Commodity” is a comprehensive report on the status of U.S. industrial hemp policy and highlights the fact that we are the only developed country to ban farmers from growing non-psychoactive industrial varieties of Cannabis. The report can be downloaded here.

The report features background on the current situation, data on foreign hemp production and U.S. consumption, analysis of the legal situation regarding hemp foods, and a review of economic studies. “We are very pleased the Congressional Research Service has issued this report and hope that members of Congress will conclude from the research that the U.S. is falling behind other developed nations on industrial hemp cultivation and technology,” says Eric Steenstra, president of Vote Hemp. “I believe we will see federal legislation introduced this year to allow farmers to grow non-psychoactive hemp for the first time since the 1950s.”

According to the CRS report, “For centuries, the plant species Cannabis sativa has been a source of fiber and oilseed used worldwide to produce a variety of industrial and consumer products. Currently, more than 30 nations grow industrial hemp as an established agricultural commodity. About 14 of those sell part of their production on the world market.” It goes on to say, “No legislation to legalize hemp has been introduced to date at the federal level. Some states, however, have considered a variety of initiatives with increasing frequency, especially since 1995. Between 1995 and 2002, 53 bills were introduced in state legislatures, and 25 of those passed, according to the 2002/2003 report of Vote Hemp, one of the industry’s trade groups. Currently, at least 14 states have hemp-related laws in effect, Vote Hemp reports.”

“Farmers are asking, if it’s legal to import and sell hemp products here in the U.S., why can’t we grow hemp here in the U.S.? Automobile parts, paper, clothing, food, personal care products and more are all being made from hemp, yet the American farmer is left out of the expanding marketplace, now estimated at more than $200 million in annual North American retail sales,” says Steenstra.

In February 2004, the Hemp Industries Association (HIA) won its three-year legal battle against the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA’s) misguided attempt to ban safe and nutritious hemp foods. The market for hemp seed and oil products that the DEA tried to eliminate is now among the fastest-growing in the natural products industry, which itself is among the fastest-growing sectors of the U.S. economy.

(see also 2004-12-09.)

Source, press release of 2005-01-25.