Outside America, industrial hemp is grown in more than 30 countries. China is known to produce the most hemp, with Chile and the European Union following. Hemp production has also expanded into Canada. The country recorded the annual crop production of over 70,000 acres last year. With the Industrial Hemp Farming Act, we should see hemp being grown by more farmers in America soon.
Despite the enormous uses for hemp, some years back it was classified as schedule 1 drug in the Controlled Substances Act in the United States. This classification of hemp as class 1 drug puts it in the same category as marijuana, which remains illegal in most countries as a narcotic. The good news to industrial hemp farmers is that hemp will be declassified from this category soon.
History of the Ban on Hemp
Back in 1937, Congress passed the first law discouraging cannabis production for marijuana use, while still allowing industrial hemp uses of the crop. Under this statute, farmers could still grow hemp, but soon after world war II, the Marihuana Tax Act was enacted to regulate hemp. This resulted in fewer and fewer acres of hemp being cultivated until 1958 when no crops were planted.
The DEA placed hemp plant farming either for drug or industrial use squarely under the control of the Controlled Substance Act. The act classifies industrial hemp containing 3% THC in the same category as marijuana grown for drug use, which contains up to 24% or more THC.
The Industrial Hemp Farming Act clearly distinguishes hemp from marijuana. However, states that have programs allowing farmers to grow hemp for industrial use under defined circumstances, still require a DEA permit and they must strictly abide with DEA’s control guidelines. In other words, a hemp farmer without the DEA permit, despite being issued with the state- issued permit, faces the possibility of federal charges.
Even though this law is in the process of being changed, there is need for states to pass legislation to ensure that farmers can conduct industrial hemp farming without DEA distraction while they wait for the passing of this bill. It is anticipated that the introduction of the Industrial Hemp Farming Act will allow farmers grow the hemp plant without fear of possible federal charges.
The Industrial Hemp Farming Act will hopefully encourage more and more states to allow hemp farming. This means we will finally see industrial hemp gaining momentum as a cash crop. The many products that can be made from hemp will create jobs as well as environmentally friendly products.