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Texas Congressman Proposes to Redefine Industrial Hemp

Posted on April 15, 2005

Austin, Texas — In other news, U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Surfside, intends to file legislation this spring that would redefine industrial hemp under the Controlled Substances Act, removing the de facto federal ban on agricultural hemp production. “This is an industrial product,” said Paul spokesman Jeff Deist. “This would essentially eliminate the federal roadblocks to industrial hemp production.”

According to a recent report from the Congressional Research Service, the U.S. is the only industrialized nation that does not have an established hemp crop. And the demand for hemp products — from textiles to auto parts to foods — continues to grow, meaning U.S. companies must import hemp products for sale in the states.

Hemp farming used to be an agricultural staple — the government actually encouraged production during World War II — until changes to the Controlled Substances Act made continued production untenable. The CSA drug-war era revisions eliminated the distinction between breeds of marijuana, thus placing hemp regulation under the authority of the Drug Enforcement Administration, which is charged with approving, denying, or just ignoring hemp farming license applications. (The DEA has only ever issued one license, which has now expired, to hemp growers in Hawaii.)

Nonetheless, five states — Hawaii, Montana, Kentucky, West Virginia, and North Dakota — currently have laws that legalize and regulate hemp farming; similar legislation is pending in California, Oregon, and New Hampshire. Deist said that the government’s broad definition of marijuana, which includes industrial hemp as a Schedule I narcotic, is “preposterous.” “Hemp doesn’t fall under the same category [as illegal marijuana] and it is silly that it does,” he said. “This is an industrial product.” The ban on hemp is merely an “off-shoot of this mentality from a war on drugs, and is not based on reason or fact. There is no rational policy right now.” Deist said Paul expects to file the legislation in late May or early June.

Copyright © 2005, The Austin Chronicle. All rights reserved.

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