Hemp production for research now legal in U.S.

Growing hemp is now legal in the United States, provided it is produced solely for research.

Vote Hemp, an advocacy group, announced today that president Barack Obama has signed the U.S. farm bill, which contains a provision permitting industrial hemp production at universities, colleges and state agricultural department farms, in states that have legalized hemp as an agricultural crop.

“This is the first time in American history that industrial hemp has been legally defined by our federal government as distinct from drug varieties of cannibis,” said Vote Hemp president Eric Steenstra in a statement. “The market opportunities for hemp are incredibly promising, ranging from textiles and health foods to home construction and even automobile manufacturing.”

Tom Murphy, Vote Hemp’s national outreach co-ordinator, said Democrat and Republican politicians support the legalization of hemp production.

Last summer, members of Congress from both parties passed a version of the farm bill with the industrial hemp research amendment.

“This amendment is a small but fundamental change in the laws that hopefully will one day allow Kentucky farmers to grow industrial hemp again,” Republican congressman Thomas Massie of Kentucky said at the time. “It’s our goal that the research this amendment enables would further broadcast the economic benefits of the sustainable and job-creating crop.”

Ten states, including North Dakota, Montana and Washington, have already passed industrial hemp farming legislation. With the amendment now in effect, those jurisdictions can immediately begin research work on industrial hemp.

Overall, 32 states have introduced pro-hemp legislation and another 20 have passed pro-hemp bills.