Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden on Wednesday called on Congress to repeal the ban on industrial hemp production, framing the ban as a restriction on free enterprise.
"This in my view is a textbook example of a regulation that flunks the common sense test," he said on the Senate floor. "There is government regulation on the books today that prevents America's farmers from growing industrial hemp."
The federal government does not differentiate between marijuana and industrial hemp, but it allows the importation of thousands of products made from industrial hemp. President Barack Obama’s drug czar, Gil Kerlikowske, warned as recently as April in comments made online that industrial hemp was a “controlled substance,” which sent hemp advocates on a rhetorical tirade.
Wyden has offered an amendment to the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012 that would legalize hemp farming in the United States.
"The only thing standing in the way of taking advantage of this very profitable crop is a lingering misunderstanding about its use," Wyden said. "Right now the United States is importing millions of dollars in hemp products to use in paper products, construction materials, textiles and a variety of other goods. We are importing a crop that U.S. farmers could be profitably growing right here at home if not for government rules prohibiting it."
Wyden explained that, despite what some senators may believe, hemp was not the same as the illicit drug marijuana.
"No one is going to get high on industrial hemp."
Watch video, uploaded to YouTube on June 13, below:
With prior reporting by Stephen C. Webster