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Massie: Think Rope, Not Dope

Congressman Thomas Massie (R-KY), Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO) and a bipartisan coalition of 45 other lawmakers introduced legislation that requires the federal government to respect state laws allowing industrial hemp cultivation. The Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2015 (H.R. 525) amends the Controlled Substance Act to exclude industrial hemp from the definition of marijuana.

“I'm optimistic that we can get the Industrial Hemp Farming Act to the President's desk this Congress,” Representative Massie said. “In 2014, for the first time in over half a century, hemp was grown and harvested in Kentucky under the pilot programs allowed by the Polis-Massie-Blumenauer amendment of the 2014 Farm Bill. I look forward to building on last year's momentum to give our nation's farmers and manufacturers more opportunities to compete and succeed in the global market.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who cosponsored the Senate version said, “I've heard from countless Kentuckians about the success of our initial 2014 industrial hemp pilot programs and university studies in the Commonwealth. I am especially proud that Rep. Massie and I were able to work together in making those projects possible on the federal level via the 2014 Farm Bill. I support this legislationand look forward to seeing industrial hemp prosper in the Commonwealth.”

“From the first day I took office, I’ve worked with a bipartisan group of partners to unlock the potential of industrial hemp to create jobs and farm income,” Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer said. “We’ve made tremendous strides in a short time, but now we need to take the next step and make hemp production legal for anyone who wants to grow and process it. Rep. Massie has stood side by side with us from the beginning, and I appreciate all his efforts to get this done.”

“The American family farmer is the backbone of this nation,” said Michael Lewis, a Rockcastle County, Ky., farmer who participated in a hemp pilot project in 2014. “With farmers struggling with rising expenses and declining prices for traditional crops, restoring the right to grow one of our nation’s historic cash crops makes sense. The time has come to remove the draconian regulations surrounding industrial hemp and enable the American farmer to rebuild our rural economy.”

Kentucky made strides on the issue in 2014 with Commissioner Comer at the state level and Sen. McConnell, Sen. Rand Paul and Rep. Massie at the federal level. In early 2014, the President signed into law a Farm Bill that contained an expanded Polis-Massie-Blumenauer amendment permitting research institutions and state agriculture departments to grow and cultivate industrial hemp in states where it is already legal to do so. The Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2015 would remove the legal barriers that have prevented the cultivation of hemp for commercial purposes.

Kentucky was a leading producer of the world's industrial hemp supply during America's early years as a nation. It is used in many products such as paper, lotions, clothing, canvas, rope and food. Hemp and marijuana are similar plants but industrial hemp does not contain the psychoactive amount of the intoxicant (THC) found in marijuana. Hemp is grown in over 30 nations in the Western hemisphere.

-Staff report

Photo: Thomas Massie