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Congress Alert

House Passes Farm Bill With Partial Hemp Legalization


The US House of Representatives passed a new farm bill (H.R.2642) Thursday afternoon that would remove the US government prohibition on colleges and universities growing industrial hemp for research purposes in compliance with state laws. The partial removal of the US government prohibition on growing hemp included in H.R.2642 is the same as in Rep. Jared Polis's amendment that won a majority floor vote for inclusion in a previous House farm bill (H.R.1947) before that farm bill was voted down on the House floor.

The US Senate passed its own farm bill (S.954) on June 10 without a floor vote on Sen. Ron Wyden's broader amendment that would entirely terminate the US government's prohibition on growing hemp in compliance with state law.

The next step for the House farm bill's hemp prohibition loosening to become law is for it to be included in identical legislation approved by the House and Senate. If the House and Senate passed farm bills are considered together in a conference committee of House and Senate members, that committee could send back to the House and Senate for consideration a farm bill that keeps, alters, or removes the hemp language in H.R.2642.

The hemp language in H.R.2642 follows:

SEC. 6605. LEGITIMACY OF INDUSTRIAL HEMP RESEARCH.

(a) In General- Notwithstanding the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 801 et seq.), the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988 (41 U.S.C. 8101 et seq.), the Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act of 1986 (20 U.S.C. 7101 et seq.), or any other Federal law, an institution of higher education (as defined in section 101 of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1001)) may grow or cultivate industrial hemp if--
(1) the industrial hemp is grown or cultivated for purposes of agricultural research or other academic research; and 

(2) the growing or cultivating of industrial hemp is allowed under the laws of the State in which such institution of higher education is located and such research occurs.
(b) Industrial Hemp Defined- In this section, the term `industrial hemp' means the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of such plant, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.
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