New Nevada Law Legalizes Commercial Hemp Production Despite Federal Prohibition

By Michael Maharrey

Tomorrow, a new Nevada law goes into effect legalizing commercial industrial hemp production in the state, despite a federal ban on the same. The new policy sets the foundation to nullify federal prohibition in practice and effect within the state.

A bipartisan coalition of 12 legislators sponsored Senate Bill 396 (SB396). The new law authorizes the cultivation of industrial hemp for commercial purposes and the production of agricultural hemp seed in Nevada. The statute expands current law that only allows an institution of higher education or the Nevada Department of Agriculture to cultivate industrial hemp for research purposes conducted under an agricultural pilot program or for other agricultural or academic research. Under the new law, the state will create separate licensing programs for growers, handlers and producers of hemp seed.

The federal government currently restricts the acquisition of seed. Encouraging seed development within the state will also incentivize the hemp market. However, the law gives the Department of Agriculture wide latitude in its rule-making authority. How the program operates in practice will ultimately depend on how the department formulates the rules.

The Senate passed SB396 by a 20-0 vote. The Assembly approved the measure by a vote of 34-5. With Gov. Sandoval’s signature, the law goes into effect July 1.


Early in 2014, then-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 “hemp amendment”

…allows State Agriculture Departments, colleges and universities to grow hemp, defined as the non-drug oil-seed 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.

In short, current federal law authorizes the farming of hemp – by research institutions, or within state pilot programs – for research only. Farming for commercial purposes by individuals and businesses remains prohibited. SB396 ignores federal prohibition and authorizes commercial farming and production anyway.


By rejecting any need for federal approval, SB396 sets the stage to nullify the federal hemp ban in practice. Nevada could join with other states – including Colorado, Oregon, Maine, Massachusetts, California and Vermont – that have simply ignored federal prohibition and legalized industrial hemp production within their state borders.

While prospective hemp growers would still have to take federal law into consideration, by eliminating the state requirement for federal permission, the proposed Nevada law would clear away a major obstacle to widespread commercial hemp farming within the borders of the state.

Farmers in SE Colorado started harvesting the plant in 2013, and farmers in Vermont began harvesting in 2014, effectively nullifying federal restrictions on such agricultural activities. On Feb. 2, 2105, the Oregon hemp industry officially opened for business and one week later, the first license went to a small non-profit group. As more people engage in hemp production and the market grows within these states, more people will become emboldened creating an exponential wave, ultimately nullifying the federal ban in effect.


According to a 2005 Congressional Research Service report, the U.S. is the only developed nation that hasn’t developed an industrial hemp crop for economic purposes.

Experts suggest that the U.S. market for hemp is around $600 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!

Michael Maharrey [send him email] is the Communications Director for the Tenth Amendment Center, where this article first appeared. He proudly resides in the original home of the Principles of ’98 – Kentucky. See his blog archive here and his article archive here. He is the author of the book, Our Last Hope: Rediscovering the Lost Path to Liberty. You can visit his personal website at and like him on Facebook HERE

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5 Comments on "New Nevada Law Legalizes Commercial Hemp Production Despite Federal Prohibition"

  1. Disqus-helpsGOVTbreaklaws&kill | June 30, 2017 at 12:16 pm | Reply

    the mormons are going to cash in by way of tax exempt bit coin loopholes and bleeding the beast programs

  2. Prohibition for hemp and MJ are just “because I said so” laws. They don’t give any shyts about you.

  3. Have you ever tried smoking hemp? You’ll get one hellacious headache and never get high no matter how much you smoke. They banned hemp as it was cutting into the timber business of some richo back in the early 1900’s……it was basically a ploy so Mr. Richo could get richer…

    • straight shooter | July 1, 2017 at 7:18 pm | Reply

      Just so you know, the prime movers were William Randolph Hearst, who didn’t want hemp used to make paper (as he already owned a great deal of forest land to make paper for his empire of rag newspapers), the DuPont family, who didn’t want hemp used to make plastics and household items produced by their toxic chemical empire, and their man inside the government (as there always has to be one), Harry Anslinger, the psychopathic first head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, who made sure that their plan to make hemp illegal by demonizing marijuana was carried out on the Hill.

      Hearst made sure to plant plenty of news stories about black musicians raping white women after smoking the evil weed, financed the film “Reefer Madness,” and the rest is our sad history.

      • NazdaPokmov | July 1, 2017 at 8:27 pm | Reply

        You obviously researched this topic well I see. I didn’t have the time to go back into my memory for just who the timber baron was. Many thanks for the mini history of Hemp. Hemp has so many uses it boggles the mind….even more uses than you can imagine.

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