Bipartisan group of senators want to legalize growing hemp

Wyden said the ban of industrial hemp growing within the United States is the “poster child for dumb regulation.”

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“Members of Congress hear a lot about how dumb regulations are hurting economic growth and job creation,” Wyden said. “The current ban on growing industrial hemp makes no sense at all, and what is worse, this regulation is hurting job creation in rural America and increasing our trade deficit.”

Hemp is typically used to make clothes, paper and construction materials. Oregon and Kentucky have large hemp product industries and would benefit if farmers were allowed to grow the crop in state. 

“Right now, the United States is importing over $10 million in hemp products,” Wyden said. “We are importing a crop that U.S. farmers could be profitably growing right here at home, if not for government rules prohibiting it.”

Under their bill, states would regulate hemp instead of the federal government. Wyden pointed out that although hemp is derived from the marijuana plant, industrial hemp contains trace levels of THC, the active chemical in the drug.

“Now, I know it is tough for some members of Congress to talk about hemp and not connect it to marijuana,” Wyden said when introducing the bill. “You know, the Chihuahua and St. Bernard come from the same species, too, Canis lupus familiaris, but no one is going to confuse them.”

The bill would allow the U.S. attorney general to limit industrial hemp to have THC levels of 0.3 percent or less. Wyden said no one could get high from industrial hemp because marijuana typically has 5 percent THC content.