Hemp is one step closer to becoming a legal crop in the United States. On August 5, Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski signed a bill into law that made it legal to produce, trade and possess industrial hemp in the state, making Oregon the sixth state to pass a pro-hemp law this year. Other states include Maine, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota and Vermont.
Hemp is one step closer to becoming a legal crop in the United States. Photo By bartpogoda/Courtesy Flickr
The law sets up a state-regulated program for growing industrial hemp. While some states have faced difficulty in getting the federal government to grant the licenses needed to grow hemp, the new Oregon law does not require a federal Drug Enforcement Administration permit to cultivate the crop.
Hemp has been illegal in the United States for decades. A relative of the marijuana plant, hemp became closely associated with its hallucinogenic cousin after World War II, and farmers in the 1950s were discouraged from growing it. However, cultivating hemp wasn’t illegal until the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. Since then, all industrial hemp sold in the United States has been imported from Canada, China and Europe, where it’s legal to grow hemp.
By outlawing the growth of industrial hemp, U.S. lawmakers have deprived the American economy of an environmentally friendly and profitable crop. In 2008 the Hemp Industries Association estimated that sales of industrial hemp in the United States reached $360 million, money that could be going back to American farmers—and a struggling economy.