A bill introduced in the Maine state house would authorize the farming, production, and sale of industrial hemp in the state, effectively nullifying the federal prohibition on the same once put into effect.
LD4 was introduced by State Rep. Deborah Sanderson (R-Chelsea) on Jan. 5. At the present time, industrial hemp production is only approved in the state for research purposes after receiving federal approval. If successfully passed, LD4 would broaden opportunities for widespread production of the potential cash crop by creating a state-level licensing process that rejects any need for federal permission.
In spite of being recently introduced, LD4 has already received an impressive bipartisan array of co-sponsors. Legislators who have endorsed the bill include State Reps. Adam Goode (D-Bangor), Beth O’Connor (R-Berwick), Wayne Parry (R-Arundel), Matthew Pouliot (R-Augusta), Michael Shaw (D-Standish) and Jeff Timberlake (R-Turner) along with State Sen. James Hamper (R-Oxford).
LD4 states that “a person may plant, grow, harvest, possess, process, sell and buy industrial hemp if that person holds a license.” License fees should be “reasonable and necessary to cover the costs of the department” and would be set at the discretion of the Maine Commissioner of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry. Industrial hemp growers would be authorized to buy seeds from state-licensed distributors and Canadian distributors.
Maine now has the opportunity to join five other states – Colorado, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee and Vermont – that have already passed similar measures. Farmers in SE Colorado started harvesting the plant in 2013, effectively nullifying federal restrictions on such agricultural activities. Tennessee is likely to be next to put this into practice in 2015.
Experts suggest that the U.S. market for hemp is around $500 million per year. They count as many as 25,000 uses for industrial hemp, including food, cosmetics, plastics and bio-fuel. The U.S. is currently the world’s #1 importer of hemp fiber for various products, with China and Canada acting as the top two exporters in the world.
During World War II, the United States military relied heavily on hemp products, which resulted in the famous campaign and government-produced film, “Hemp for Victory!”.
But, since the enactment of the unconstitutional federal controlled-substances act in 1970, the Drug Enforcement Agency has prevented the production of hemp within the United States. Many hemp supporters feel that the DEA has been used as an “attack dog” of sorts to prevent competition with major industries where American-grown hemp products would create serious market competition: Cotton, Paper/Lumber, Oil, and others.
Last year, President Barack Obama signed a new farm bill into law, which included a provision allowing a handful of states to begin limited research programs growing hemp. The new “hemp amendment”
…allows State Agriculture Departments, colleges and universities to grow hemp, defined as the non-drug oilseed and fiber varieties of Cannabis, for academic or agricultural research purposes, but it applies only to states where industrial hemp farming is already legal under state law.
LD4 goes a step further than what is currently ‘allowed’ by the feds by authorizing commercial development of the hemp plant. This is an essential step forward. Similar to the way marijuana prohibition has been nullified because of massive state action, states defying the federal industrial hemp ban can unleash a tidal wave of resistance that forces the feds to get their priorities in order.
For Maine: Take action now to support LD4. Visit THIS LINK for all the steps you need to take to move this bill forward.
For All Other States: Take action in your state to push legislators to introduce and support bills to legalize hemp farming by clicking HERE.