"Yet somehow, it's caught up in a completely unrelated drug war that prevents American farmers from growing this crop and forces us to import it from other countries," Polis said Wednesday. "Our institutions of higher education can't even grow or cultivate hemp for research purposes."
An opponent of his language, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), said hemp production has been limited because it is difficult to distinguish it from the marijuana plant. "Even though the gentleman says hemp is not marijuana, I don't know if one can tell the difference when it's planted row by row out in the field," King said.
Late Wednesday, House Agriculture Committee ranking member Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) said there has been some success splicing a gene into hemp plants that allow them to emit a fluorescent glow, making it easier to differentiate between it and marijuana.
"So now the hemp that grows is fluorescent, and so you can clearly tell the difference between the hemp and the marijuana," Peterson said. "So we have solved that problem through research."
The House approved the amendment from Polis and Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and Tom Massie (R-Ky.) in a 225-200 vote. More than 60 Republicans supported it.
The proposal was one of several that the House considered in Thursday morning roll-call votes, from:
— Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), to terminate funding for the USDA's Emerging Markets Program after Sept. 30, 2013, saving $10 million per year. Failed, 103-322.
— G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.), allowing people to buy personal hygiene items using SNAP benefits. Failed, 123-297.
— Tom Marino (R-Pa.), establishing a pilot program in nine states in which the Government Accountability Office can collect data on how food stamps are being used. Failed, 79-346
— David Schweikert (R-Ariz.), eliminating the Healthy Food Financing Initiative. Failed, 194-232.
— John Tierney (D-Mass.), allowing commercial fishermen to receive Emergency Disaster Loan funds. Failed, 211-215.