U.S. Senate Votes To Legalize Hemp After Decades of Prohibition

By Alanna Ketler, Collective Evolution

In Brief

  • The Facts: Industrial hemp has been illegal in the United States for almost 50 years despite many potential benefits for its use.
  • Reflect On: If we have a more sustainable, environmentally friendly option that can replace many toxic products we are currently using, why wouldn’t we make the switch?

Last Thursday, June 29th, the U.S. Senate approved a bill to legalize hemp, an industrial crop that has been banned for decades.

Senators Mitch McConnell, Rand Paul, Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley submitted a separate bill to legalize industrial hemp and those provisions were then incorporated into the broader farm bill. The Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry approved that version before the upper levels of Congress voted to approve it this past week with a margin of 86-11. This bill will legalize the cultivation, processing, and sale of hemp.

FYI, Industrial Hemp Will Not Get You High

It is important to note that industrial hemp has been prohibited for cultivation in the United States for nearly 50 years, and really, for no good reason. Industrial hemp does not contain enough THC to cause a psychoactive effect, and will not get you high. On the other hand, the beneficial uses of industrial hemp are plentiful. Some of these uses include hempcrete, biodegradable hemp plastics, food source, fuel, textiles, personal care products, insulation, shoes and many more, as listed on the image below.

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Hemp is a much more sustainable option compared to the traditional materials that are used for the above products which often use petroleum products or trees. Hemp, unlike petroleum, is biodegradable and is processed using much lower levels of emissions and chemical processing. As opposed to trees that take around 30 years to be ready to be harvested and used for products, hemp is typically ready to harvest in four months, and per acre, it produces four times as much paper as trees. The benefits of hemp are literally endless, and it’s about time this bill was passed to finally legalize this super plant!

Some Cool Tidbits About Hemp

You may or may not be surprised to know that the original declaration of independence was written on hemp paper, as it was used for many years for paper products and textiles before it was banned.

According to Popular Mechanics, Henry Ford’s first Model-T was built to run on hemp gasoline and the CAR ITSELF WAS CONSTRUCTED FROM HEMP! On his large estate, Ford was photographed among his hemp fields. The car, ‘grown from the soil,’ had hemp plastic panels whose impact strength was 10 times stronger than steel.

Free The Hemp

It really is a wonder as to why this plant was outlawed in the first place, perhaps it’s because it bears too much a resemblance to its cousin, THC containing marijuana, but maybe it’s because it was too durable, and too sustainable and would be difficult to turn a profit using materials for building goods that are built to last.

Consumers across America buy hundreds of millions in retail products every year that contain hemp,” McConnell said Thursday. “But due to outdated federal regulations that do not sufficiently distinguish this industrial crop from its illicit cousin, American farmers have been mostly unable to meet that demand themselves. It’s left consumers with little choice but to buy imported hemp products from foreign-produced hemp.”

According to Wyden:

Legalizing hemp nationwide ends decades of bad policymaking and opens up (an) untold economic opportunity for farmers in Oregon and across the country.”

It’s Time

Farmers across the country have expressed relief and excitement that hemp has come this close to legalization. “It’s super big,” Dani Billings, who owns LoCo farms in Longmont Colorado, said, as reported by an NBC affiliate station in Colorado. “We have people who understand agriculture, that understand this is for farming and it’s not to get people high.”

Bruce Perlowin, CEO of NC-based Hemp Inc., which worked with veterans, said in a press release:

“With Veteran Village Kins Community B-Corporations set up in 8 states so far, the legalization of industrial hemp will now allow these future veteran villages to be built and to flourish – creating more support for our veterans than anyone can possibly imagine.”

Despite the obvious growing momentum to finally legalize industrial hemp, it still must be approved by the house, which has already expressed opposition. McConnel is, however, expected to campaign heavily in favor of the bill in the lower house of Congress. A list of concerns in regards to the bill that were handed down from the White House reportedly did not include any outright objections to the legalization of hemp, so if the bill does make it through the house, it will just need a signature from President Trump. Although hemp legalization has passed in some states, the latest legislation would make it a national policy. It’s about time.

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