Category Archives: Political

The Congressional Cannabis Caucus

 

Pot Presser

Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., left, and Dana Rohrabacher, D-Calif., two of the four U.S. congressmen who have launched the Congressional Cannabis Caucus. Photo by Tom Williams—CQ-Roll Call,Inc

 

With public support for reforming marijuana laws at an all time high, Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Jared Polis (D-CO), and Don Young (R-AK) have formed the first-ever Congressional Cannabis Caucus to promote sensible cannabis policy reform and to ease the tension between federal and state cannabis laws.

The official establishment of a Congressional Cannabis Caucus represents yet another step forward toward ultimately reforming cannabis policy at the federal level. The creation of this caucus is yet another manifestation that our political power is growing — even inside the beltway.

Click here to email your Congressional Representative and urge them to join the Cannabis Caucus today.

NORML has been in this fight for over 47 years, representing the position that responsible adults who choose to consume marijuana should not be be persecuted or stigmatized. Throughout the country, our chapters are organizing to advocate for state level reforms. NORML represents a growing community of individuals who are coming together and working toward the mutual goals of building a more just and verdant society. 

The end of marijuana prohibition will not come overnight. In fact, the forces of prohibition remain strong and the misinformation campaign that has spanned from Reefer Madness to D.A.R.E. is deeply entrenched in the psyches of lawmakers and voters alike. But just as we have for decades, we will not be deterred. 

In order for our state and federal laws to be more reflective of the cold truths of reality and science rather than hysteria and racism, we must continue to educate our legislators and neighbors alike. Having a coalition of lawmakers in Washington, DC who will go on the record in support of advocating for cannabis freedom is something we haven’t had before, but it is an event that is long overdue. 

So let’s keep building. 

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Send a message to your member of Congress now and tell them to join the Cannabis Caucus and support sanity in marijuana policy.

NORML and the NORML Foundation: 1100 H Street NW, Suite 830, Washington DC, 20005
Tel: (202) 483-5500 • Fax: (202) 483-0057 • Email: norml@norml.org

 

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Pro-Pot Lawmakers Launch a Congressional Cannabis Caucus

Tom Huddleston, Jr.

12:10 AM Central

Four members of the U.S. congress are banding together to protect the growing marijuana industry.

A bipartisan group of federal lawmakers launched the Congressional Cannabis Caucus in a press conference at the U.S. Capitol on Thursday afternoon. Republican congressmen Dana Rohrabacher (California) and Don Young (Alaska) joined Democrats Earl Blumenauer (Oregon) and Jared Polis (Colorado) to launch the new group. They are dedicated to developing policy reforms that can bridge the gap that currently exists between federal laws banning marijuana and the laws in an ever-growing number of states that have legalized it for medical or recreational purposes.

“We’re stepping forward together to say we’ve got to make major changes in our country’s attitude toward cannabis,” Rep. Rohrabacher said at the start of the press conference. “And if we do, many people are going to live better lives, it’s going to be better for our country, better for people, and it makes economic sense at a time when every penny must count for government.”

Various polls show that a majority of Americans support legalizing marijuana in some form, and a strong showing in November’s elections pushed the number of states that have legalized medical cannabis to 28, while another eight have voted for recreational legalization. (Notably, each of the four congressmen forming the Cannabis Caucus represent districts in states that have legalized both medical and recreational pot.)

In recent years, under President Barack Obama, federal law enforcement mostly left individual states alone to enact and enforce their own marijuana legislation. Three years ago, Congress passed a bill that prohibited the Justice Department from using federal funds to target cannabis operations that comply with local laws.

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Monsanto to face ‘tribunal’ in The Hague for ‘damage to human health and environment’

Published time: 5 Dec, 2015 06:08

© Mal Langsdon

A global group of professionals, scientists and environmentalists – the Monsanto Tribunal – are preparing a trial for the GMO seed giant in The Hague. They say the crowdfunded action, determined to charge Monsanto with “ecocide,” is more than a symbolic move.

READ MORE: Putin wants Russia to become world’s biggest exporter of Non-GMO food

The Monsanto Tribunal’s goal is to research and evaluate all of the allegations made against Monsanto in connection to all the damages its products have caused to human health and the environment. It is scheduled to be held at The Hague from October 12 to 16 in 2016. The trial will wrap up on next year’s World Food Day.

One of the main goals the broad group of signees [ABOUT US] wants the tribunal to achieve is establishing “ecocide” as a crime. “Recognizing ecocide as a crime is the only way to guarantee the right of humans to a healthy environment and the right of nature to be protected,” The International Monsanto Tribunal says on its website.

The Tribunal will look into a range of charges, including what it says are Monsanto’s crimes against nature and humanity.

“The Tribunal will rely on the ‘Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights’ adopted at the UN in 2011. It will also assess potential criminal liability on the basis of the Rome Statue that created the International Criminal Court in The Hague in 2002, and it will consider whether a reform of international criminal law is warranted to include crimes against the environment, or ecocide, as a prosecutable criminal offense, so that natural persons could incur criminal liability.”

Several bodies and groups are supporting the initiative, including the Organic Consumers Association (OCA), IFOAM International Organics, Navdanya, Regeneration International (RI), and Millions Against Monsanto, as well as dozens more farming and environmental groups.

The decision to proceed with the tribunal was announced by the groups shortly before the Sustainable Pulse report was published, which was part of the COP21 UN Conference on Climate Change that runs until December 11 in Paris.

“The time is long overdue for a global citizens’ tribunal to put Monsanto on trial for crimes against humanity and the environment. We are in Paris this month to address the most serious threat that humans have ever faced in our 100-200,000 year evolution—global warming and climate disruption,” the president of the Organic Consumers Association, Ronnie Cummins, said at the press conference.

Meanwhile, president of IFOAM and member of the RI Steering Committee Andre Leu accused Monsanto of ignoring the human and environmental damage created by its products. Leu added that the transnational is able to maintain its devastating practices “by lobbying regulatory agencies and governments, by resorting to lying and corruption, by financing fraudulent scientific studies, by pressuring independent scientists, and by manipulating the press and media.”

“Monsanto’s history reads like a text-book case of impunity, benefiting transnational corporations and their executives, whose activities contribute to climate and biosphere crises and threaten the safety of the planet,” Leu stressed.
The American-based company has enjoyed a good reputation in the US media and is known for its strong ties on Capitol Hill.

The Monsanto Tribunal argues that the company is responsible for the depletion of soil and water resources, species extinction, and declining biodiversity, as well as the displacement of millions of small farmers worldwide.

Farmers in certain countries have been taking these developments very hard. In India, an alarming wave of suicides tied to Monsanto’s practices has been registered among farmers.
Instead of traditional crops, farmers have been forced to grow GM cotton, which is more expensive and requires additional maintenance. In the last 20 years, this trend has driven some 290,000 farmers to commit suicide due to bankruptcy, according to India’s national crimes bureau records.

READ MORE: GMO that kills: GM-cotton problems drive Indian farmers to suicide

Subjecting Monsanto to real legal consequences will be a challenge, though, as the corporation has never lost a case.

The company is notorious for routinely suing farmers, which has earned it the reputation of a legal bully in the eyes of critics. According to Food Democracy Now, the GMO corporation has filed 145 lawsuits since 1997, because farmers had reused their seeds in a manner inconsistent with Monsanto policies. This even includes cases where the farmers themselves had sued Monsanto for the inadvertent cross-pollination of their organic crops with GMO seeds.

One lawsuit representing 300,000 farmers was thrown out of court – for the mere reason that the farmers had already been sued by Monsanto. According to Food Democracy Now, the judge called the farmers’ case “unsubstantiated.”

Untold damage has also been caused to the ecosphere by the dying-off of 970 million Monarch butterflies since 1990. The herbicides Monsanto sells eradicate a range of the prolific pollinators’ natural food sources. The statistic was released by the US Fish and Wildlife Service in February.

READ MORE: Monsanto monarch massacre: 970 million butterflies killed since 1990

People demonstrated in over 400 major cities across the world in May to tell the GMO giant they do not want its produce in their food. It was the third global March Against Monsanto (MAM).

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US considers buying industrial cannabis from Ukraine to improve its economy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The US Department of Agriculture is looking to boost imports of hemp seeds from Ukraine, hoping this will help the country’s battered economy. However, they still do not know what it will be used for.

“We are now involved in trying to figure out ways in which we might be able to use the industrial hemp seeds that are created in Ukraine in the US,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told Bloomberg in an interview Tuesday.

Ukraine is the world’s fourth-biggest producer of industrial hemp seed, the term used to refer to cannabis strains cultivated for non-drug use. Unlike another, most known type of Cannabis grown for marijuana, industrial hemp lacks that same ingredient, THC, which causes physical or psychological effects and gives smoker a high.

Industrial hemp, being one of the earliest domesticated plants known, has many uses from healthy food to making paper, textiles, biodegradable plastics, construction and even fuel.

Easy to cultivate, uses for industrial hemp are growing rapidly.

Ukraine is currently angling for aid from the International Monetary Fund, as much as $20 billion, while it has also been struggling with months of political crisis.

The Obama administration is planning to provide a $1 billion loan for the coup-imposed government of Ukraine, and is working with European allies on a broader package.

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Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970

Shortly after the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act went into effect on October 1, 1937, the Federal Bureau of Narcotics and Denver City police arrested Moses Baca for possession and Samuel Caldwell for dealing.

 

Scaldwell.jpg

^ "The First Pot POW". Retrieved 2011-03-18. "On the day the Marijuana Tax Stamp Act was enacted — Oct. 2, 1937 — the FBI and Denver, Colo., police raided the Lexington Hotel and arrested Samuel R. Caldwell, 58, an unemployed labourer and Moses Baca, 26. On Oct. 5, Caldwell went into the history trivia books as the first marijuana seller convicted under U.S. federal law. His customer, Baca, was found guilty of possession."

 

 

Baca and Caldwell’s arrest made them the first marijuana convictions under U.S. federal law for not paying the marijuana tax.[19] Judge Foster Symes sentenced Baca to 18 months and Caldwell to four years in Leavenworth Penitentiary for violating the 1937 Marihuana Tax Act.

After the Philippines fell to Japanese forces in 1942, the Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Army urged farmers to grow fiber hemp. Tax stamps for cultivation of fiber hemp began to be issued to farmers. Without any change in the marijuana Tax Act, 400,000 acres (1,600 km2) were cultivated with hemp between 1942 and 1945. The last commercial hemp fields were planted in Wisconsin in 1957.

In 1967, President Johnson’s Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of justice opined, "The Act raises an insignificant amount of revenue and exposes an insignificant number of marijuana transactions to public view, since only a handful of people are registered under the Act. It has become, in effect, solely- a criminal law, imposing sanctions upon persons who sell, acquire, or possess marijuana."

In 1969 in Leary v. United States, part of the Act was ruled to be unconstitutional as a violation of the Fifth Amendment, since a person seeking the tax stamp would have to incriminate him/herself. In response the Congress passed the Controlled Substances Act as Title II of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970.[23] The 1937 Act was repealed by the 1970 Act.

Storm is Coming

Indiana Senate Committee Unanimously Approves Industrial Hemp Bill

Indiana Senate Committee Unanimously Approves Industrial Hemp Bill

INDIANAPOLIS, IN — Allowing farmers to grow hemp in Indiana could help boost the economy and dispel myths about a crop that can be used to make everything from paper to car parts, supporters told lawmakers Friday.

The testimony helped convince the Senate’s agriculture committee to unanimously approve a bill, Senate Bill 357, that would enable farmers to legally grow industrial hemp, but only if they or the state gets federal approval. Hemp is marijuana’s non-intoxicating cousin but it cannot be grown under federal law, though many products made from hemp, such as oils and clothing, are legal.

The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Richard Young (D-Milltown), said hemp fields flourished in Indiana before and during World War II, but petrochemical industries and other industries later lobbied against hemp — which can also be used to make fuel — to cut competition.

“This is a plant that has been used for centuries throughout the world and has tremendous potential,” Young said.

But lingering stereotypes have haunted efforts to legalize the crop ever since, said Neal Smith, chairman of Indiana National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

Kentucky passed similar legislation last year, and eight other states have done the same, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

The 1970 Controlled Substances Act requires hemp growers to get a permit from the Drug Enforcement Administration. The last permit was issued in 1999 – and expired in 2003 – for an experimental plot in Hawaii. U.S. Sens. Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell of Kentucky are co-sponsoring legislation that would federally legalize industrial hemp farming.

The economic benefits remain unclear, however, and whether Indiana would receive a permit is uncertain.

Still, Indiana farmers said waiting on state legislation would be a disadvantage.

“I wish Kentucky wouldn’t always be in front of us,” Indiana Farmers Union member Pam Patrick told the committee. “When I see industrial hemp, I see money.”

University of Kentucky research from last year suggested Kentucky could support about 80,000 acres of hemp that would bring in between $200 and $300 per acre, although increasing supplies could cut that to about $100 per acre. The research shows the current national market for the crop is small, and likely could only support a few dozen jobs in Kentucky.

Also in speaking in favor of the Indiana legislation were two mothers of children with Dravet syndrome, a rare childhood disease that causes frequent seizures. Cannabidiol, a chemical in hemp, is sometimes used to stop the seizures.

Brandy Barrett broke down in tears while telling lawmakers how her 7-year-old son can’t visit the zoo because overstimulation can trigger seizures.

“Help me and help all the state of Indiana be a voice for these children,” Barrett said. “Support this bill.”

No one spoke against the bill, which now moves to the full Senate.

Over thirty countries produce industrial hemp, including Australia, Austria, Canada, Chile, China, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, India, Italy, Japan, Korea, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey and Ukraine.

The United States is the only developed nation that fails to cultivate industrial hemp as an economic crop, according to the Congressional Resource Service.

The world’s leader in hemp production is China.

Controlled Substances Act , hemp , hemp cultivation , hemp farming , IN SB 357 , Indiana , Indiana hemp , industrial hemp , Richard D. Young , Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee

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Comer says decision greenlights Kentucky hemp

 

ohhhh-so-beautiful

 

Ralph B. Davis rdavis@civitasmedia.com

FRANKFORT — Kentucky’s agriculture commissioner says a recent decision by the U.S. Department of Justice now clears the way for Kentucky farmers to once again grow industrial hemp.

Last week, the Justice Department announced it would not seek to challenge state laws regarding the medical or recreational use of marijuana. On Friday, Agriculture Commissioner James Comer said he interprets that announcement as an opening for Kentucky to begin implementing Senate Bill 50, which sets guidelines for the production of industrial hemp, that passed earlier this year.

“It’s about time!” Comer said in a statement released Friday. “This is a major victory for Kentucky’s farmers and for all Kentuckians.”

Comer said the DOJ announcement marks a major change in policy.

“Two years ago, the Obama administration would not even discuss the legalization of industrial hemp,” Comer said. “But through a bipartisan coalition of Kentucky leaders, we forced their hand. We refused to listen to the naysayers, passed a hemp bill by a landslide, and our state is now on the forefront of an exciting new industry. That’s called leadership.”

Comer also announced that Brian Furnish, chairman of the Kentucky Industrial Hemp Commission, has called a meeting of the group for Sept. 12, at which Comer and Furnish will urge the commission to move forward with the administrative framework established by the hemp bill.

“My hope is that we can issue licenses and get industrial hemp in the ground within a year,” Furnish said.

Comer said he believes the passage of the hemp bill will allow Kentucky to be proactive, rather than reactive, in creating jobs.

“Had we not passed the framework to responsibly administer a program, we would be lagging behind right now, rather than leading the pack,” Comer said. “I am so grateful to our federal delegation for its support, especially Sen. Rand Paul and Congressmen John Yarmuth and Thomas Massie, who courageously testified in support of this job-creating legislation.”

On Wednesday, Sen. Paul issued a statement, supporting Comer’s move.

“I support Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer in his efforts to move forward with the production of industrial hemp in the Commonwealth,” Paul said. “This fight has always been about jobs and providing another opportunity for Kentucky’s farmers, and I expect the Obama Administration to treat all states equally in this process. I will continue to fight at the federal level to enact legislation to secure this new industry for Kentucky.”

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Tennessee lawmakers drafting hemp bill

 

KY HEMP_thumb

 

KNOXVILLE — Two state lawmakers in Tennessee are pointing to Kentucky’s recent approval of hemp farming as they push for a similar measure.

The Knoxville News Sentinel reports Republican Sen. Frank Niceley of Strawberry Plains is drafting a bill with Republican Rep. Andy Holt of Dresden, and they plan to introduce the measure in next year’s legislative session.

Nicely said Kentucky and six other states have passed measures legalizing hemp even though federal law prohibits it. Nicely said there also is support for changing federal laws, notably from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Rand Paul, both from Kentucky.

“The utilization of hemp to produce everything from clothing to paper is real, and if there is a capacity to center a new domestic industry in Kentucky that will create jobs in these difficult economic times, that sounds like a good thing to me,” McConnell said in a statement earlier this year.

Hemp is controversial because the fiber is derived from the same plant as marijuana. Although varieties of the plant eliminate all or most of the drug component, authorities are concerned that marijuana cultivators might hide drug plants among a crop of fiber plants.

Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker of Tennessee did not take a position on the issue, but said it should be discussed.

“While we have not spent a great deal of time on the issue, we think it should be fully vetted and debated at the appropriate time,” Laura Herzog, spokeswoman for Corker, wrote in an e-mail.

A spokesman for Alexander offered similar comments.

“This is a very interesting proposal that has a good economic argument behind it. Unfortunately, an amendment by Sen. Paul to allow industrial hemp to be grown and processed was not considered during the farm bill debate, but Sen. Alexander will carefully consider this issue going forward,” Alexander’s spokesman, Jim Jeffries, said in an e-mail.

Niceley, a farmer, said introducing the measure in the Tennessee legislature would “put pressure on Congress” to repeal its prohibition on growing the plant, which has a long history in the nation.

“Betsy Ross’s first American flag was made of hemp. Cowboys used to have jeans made of hemp. The cover on covered wagons headed west was made of hemp,” he said.

“You can import it. You can process it for thousands of uses. You can own it. Why is it illegal to raise it?”

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U.S. House of Representatives Votes to Legalize Industrial Hemp

 

 

WhiteHouse

The U.S. House of Representatives voted 225-200 on June 20 to legalize the industrial farming of hemp fiber. Hemp is the same species as the marijuana plant, and its fiber has been used to create clothing, paper, and other industrial products for thousands of years; however, it has been listed as a “controlled substance” since the beginning of the drug war in the United States. Unlike marijuana varieties of the plant, hemp is not bred to create high quantities of the drug THC.

The amendment’s sponsor, Jared Polis (D-Colo.), noted in congressional debate that “George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew hemp. The first American flag was made of hemp. And today, U.S. retailers sell over $300 million worth of goods containing hemp — but all of that hemp is imported, since farmers can’t grow it here. The federal government should clarify that states should have the ability to regulate academic and agriculture research of industrial hemp without fear of federal interference. Hemp is not marijuana, and at the very least, we should allow our universities — the greatest in the world — to research the potential benefits and downsides of this important agricultural commodity.”

The 225-200 vote included 62 Republican votes for the Polis amendment, many of whom were members of Justin Amash’s Republican Liberty Caucus or representatives from farm states. But most Republicans opposed the amendment, claiming it would make the drug war more difficult. “When you plant hemp alongside marijuana, you can’t tell the difference,” Representative Steve King (R-Iowa) said in congressional debate on the amendment to the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013.

“This is not about a drugs bill. This is about jobs,” Representative Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) countered King in House floor debate June 20. Massie, a key House Republican ally of Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky and a member of the Republican Liberty Caucus, opposes marijuana legalization but had signed on as a cosponsor of the Polis amendment.

The amendment would take industrial hemp off the controlled substances list if it meets the following classification: “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.” The amendment would allow industrial farming of hemp “if a person grows or processes Cannabis sativa L. for purposes of making industrial hemp in accordance with State law.” Most states have passed laws legalizing industrial hemp, in whole or in part, but federal prohibitions have kept the plant from legal cultivation.

However, the annual agricultural authorization bill subsequently went down to defeat in the House by a vote of 195 to 234. Sponsors of the amendment hope that it will be revised in conference committee, where it has strong support from both Kentucky senators, Rand Paul and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

The legislation, originally offered as the bill H.R. 525, was sponsored by Jared Polis (D-Colo.) and Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), who represent states where voters recently considered ballot measures that legalized marijuana within their states, a fact King pointed out in House floor debate. Voters in Colorado and Washington approved the ballot measures in 2012, but voters in Oregon rejected a ballot measure that would have legalized cultivation of marijuana.

Recent polls have indicated that most Americans want legalization of marijuana, as well as hemp. Though support for marijuana legalization is by only a slim majority of the public, there’s a larger divide among age groups, with younger voters more heavily favoring legalization.

None of the debate on the amendment related to the constitutional authority of Congress to ban substances. Nor did any congressman reference the first time Congress banned a drug — alcohol. At that time, Congress followed proper constitutional protocol to amend the U.S. Constitution first, giving it the legitimate power to ban alcohol (i.e., the 18th Amendment). No comparable constitutional amendment has been passed for hemp, marijuana, raw milk, or any other substance prohibited by the federal government.

Ky.’s senators blocked in effort to legalize hemp

By BRUCE SCHREINER, Associated Press

 

 

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky’s U.S. senators suffered a setback Thursday in their efforts to re-establish industrial hemp as a legal crop, but they vowed to continue their campaign after getting blocked as they tried to attach hemp language to the Senate farm bill.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Rand Paul said they would oppose the Senate farm legislation.

Their amendment would have removed federal restrictions on the domestic production of industrial hemp. The crop once flourished in Kentucky until it was banned decades ago when the federal government classified it as a controlled substance related to marijuana.

Hemp has a negligible content of THC, the psychoactive compound that gives marijuana users a high.

The push by McConnell and Paul to legalize industrial hemp comes after Kentucky’s legislature passed a bill this year to allow the crop to be reintroduced in the Bluegrass State, but only if the federal government lifted its prohibition on the plant.

"Although we’re disappointed in the lack of consideration of our industrial hemp amendment, it is only the beginning of our legislative efforts," the Republican U.S. senators said in a joint statement. "We are committed to continuing to look at all options to win approval of this important legislation for job creation in Kentucky."

McConnell and Paul blamed majority-Senate Democrats for blocking consideration of additional amendments to the five-year farm bill, including their hemp proposal.

"This year’s Senate farm bill is in need of serious improvement and the refusal to allow better ideas and more sensible allocations of taxpayer dollars to be considered is very disappointing," McConnell and Paul said. "We will be opposing the Senate farm bill as a result."

The Courier-Journal first reported the senators’ reaction to the hemp amendment’s setback.

The farm bill advanced on a 75-22 procedural Senate vote Thursday that sets up a vote to pass the measure next Monday. The bill would cost almost $100 billion annually and would set policy for farm subsidies, food stamps and other farm and food aid programs.

Republican House leaders have said their chamber will vote on the bill, possibly as soon as this month.

In Kentucky, the industrial hemp movement has firmly taken root as the plant’s advocates hope for a breakthrough at the federal level.

State Agriculture Commissioner James Comer says its reintroduction would give farmers a new crop and would create processing jobs to turn the fiber and seeds into products ranging from paper to biofuels. Dozens of countries already produce the crop.

Comer went to Washington to meet with federal officials to lobby for a change on hemp policy at the federal level.

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear let the state’s hemp bill become law without his signature. The Democratic governor said he wouldn’t sign the legislation out of concerns, shared by some in law enforcement, that marijuana growers could camouflage their illegal crops with hemp plants.

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Ky-s-senators-blocked-in-effort-to-legalize-hemp-4584896.php#ixzz2VUQvurVc

Doing study on coal-hemp, calls on changes in fed law

January 31, 2013

Patriot Energy joins state hemp association

CORBIN — By Jeff Noble, Staff Writer

Could industrial hemp be useful in reducing coal emissions and reclaiming mined coal fields in Kentucky?

And could the reclaiming bring a hike in southeastern and eastern Kentucky’s economy?

A bioenergy company with roots in the Tri-County thinks so.

Patriot Bioenergy Corporation recently became the first corporate member of the Kentucky Hemp Growers Cooperative Association, a Lexington-based organization that wants to make industrial hemp legal in the state — something that hasn’t been done since it was last grown during World War II as part of the nation’s war effort at home.
Patriot’s CEO Roger Ford said Wednesday industrial hemp can be grown in a variety of areas, including hillsides, which would complement the growing of energy beets for a biofuel on the company’s energy facilities, including those in the Williamsburg-Whitley County area.

“The optimal planting method seeds the plants closely together, which encourages the stalks of the plant to grow while the leaves grow smaller, increasing per-acre yields. That would work hand-in-hand with our Whitley County facilities. The industrial hemp seed can be processed into bio-diesel while the stalks are a cellulosic material, which is useful for a variety of things.”
Ford added Patriot’s focus would be to produce a biomass-coal blend from hemp and coal that would be what he called “torrified” — an energy process producing feedstock for energy production.

“The overall economic impact would be to diversify and improve the local economy by the production of industrial hemp. It would help agriculture and our project in particular.”
Patriot, based in Pikeville, is discussing the potential for using industrial hemp with coal companies. Ford said testing would be done at a laboratory in Magoffin County, with Patriot funding the research, and the results expected to be released in the middle of March. 
“We are currently conducting a feasibility study that will blend coal and hemp to measure the BTU values, as well as measure the emissions’ reclamation potential to hemp growing forward.”

 

Ford also brought up the possibility industrial hemp in Kentucky could also be used for energy and horse bedding at horse farms in the state and around the nation. A consultant with Ford on hemp research told Business Lexington magazine earlier this week the use of hemp as horse bedding is “straightforward and has been done.”

“The next step, conversion of the hemp-manure mixture to methane, is certainly viable, has been optimized ad published as recently as 2012 by a Finnish group. … Besides material for co-combustion with coal, we can produce biodiesel from the seed oil, which can be used as is or converted to jet fuel. Likewise, the whole plant can be used as a feedstock for fermentation of ethanol or longer chain fuels — gasoline, jet fuel, the list goes on — with huge markets associated. The ability to capture even small percentages of markets on this scale would be a tremendous boost to Kentucky,” Dr. Katherine Andrews told the magazine.

The state’s Commissioner of Agriculture, James Comer, wholeheartedly supports bringing industrial hemp back to Kentucky. Ford stated Patriot is working with Comer and the state’s Industrial Hemp Commission on the issue. He’s also encouraged with support in Frankfort and Washington from both political parties.

“Thus far, we’re encouraged with the bi-partisan support in Kentucky. Senator Sara Beth Gregory is a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee and we are hopeful that the committee will vote to send SB (Senate Bill) 50 to the full Senate in the next couple of weeks. … In addition, we are encouraged by the strong support from Senator Rand Paul, Congressman Barr, Congressman Yarmuth and Congressman Massie. We would hope that Senator McConnell and Congressman Rogers would weigh in and support this issue. Their leadership is needed in Washington and the people of Kentucky need a change in federal law so businesses and farmers can produce this crop and create jobs,” said Ford.
In Frankfort, Senate Bill 50 provides procedures that would allow and facilitate cultivating industrial hemp, if there is a similar change in Washington. While it’s not a drug like marijuana, federal law still says hemp is illegal.

According to an Associated Press story on Monday, Senator Paul Hornback (R – Shelbyville), chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, plans to bring the hemp bill up for a vote in his committee at a Feb. 11 hearing. U. S. Senator Paul is scheduled to appear in Frankfort and support the measure.

Ford noted that industrial hemp and marijuana cross-pollinates and diminishes the THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) in marijuana.
“In short, it ruins the narcotic value of marijuana. It would be similar to planting field corn and sweet corn in the same field. For law enforcement to object to the production of industrial hemp on the basis that it poses a risk to narcotics enforcement is disingenuous at best. The fact is the cross-pollination would aid in the eradication of marijuana. Businesses or farmers would not seek to plant industrial hemp and marijuana in the same field, because that would obviously be counterproductive,” he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this article