Legislators call on Congress to legalize industrial hemp

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Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2015 would remove barriers to growing crop

A year after the New York State Legislature passed a bill to permit the research of industrial hemp, legislators are calling on the federal government to remove all barriers to growing the lucrative crop. The Assembly passed a resolution last week introduced by Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo (K578) urging Congress to pass the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2015.

“The economic impact of hemp has already been proven; all we need is the federal government to give the green light,” said Assemblywoman Lupardo (D-Endwell). “Hemp products generate hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue every year. This crop has the potential to boost our agricultural economy and create new markets and manufacturing opportunities.”

In addition to the resolution, Assemblywoman Lupardo also sent a letter to members of New York’s Congressional delegation urging them to sponsor the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2015 (HR525/S134); Congressman Richard Hanna (R-NY22) and Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY10) are the only New York representatives signed on to the bill.

Currently, hemp is classified as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act due to the fact that it comes from the same plant as marijuana. However, it contains little to no THC content; the Industrial Hemp Farming Act would redefine hemp, effectively removing it from the list of banned substances.

“We took the initiative in New York State last year to begin positioning our agricultural industry and farmers at the forefront of domestic production of industrial hemp,” said Senator Tom O’Mara (R,C-Big Flats). “Consequently, the approval of the federal Industrial Hemp Farming Act would truly jumpstart the growth of these new economic opportunities for New York’s farmers, generate revenue and create jobs. I’m hopeful that our Congressional representatives will fully recognize this opportunity to diversify and strengthen agriculture in New York State and nationally.”

Last year’s US Farm Bill included a provision which permitted the research of hemp in states where it has been approved by law. Assemblywoman Lupardo and Senator O’Mara sponsored New York’s hemp research bill, and to date, 23 states have laws in place that allows them to begin hemp research. Hemp is used around the world to produce textiles, building materials, food products, biofuels and cannabidiol (non-psychoactive oil used to treat certain conditions such as childhood seizures).