S. 3501 would amend the Controlled Substances Act to clarify that hemp is not a drug, despite being part of the marijuana plant family. Hemp has much lower levels of THC, the chemical in marijuana plants that make people high.


Wyden tried to offer an amendment doing the same thing to the Senate passed farm bill in June, but it was ruled non-germane by leadership.

“I firmly believe that American farmers should not be denied an opportunity to grow and sell a legitimate crop simply because it resembles an illegal one,” Wyden said. “Raising this issue has sparked a growing awareness of exactly how ridiculous the U.S.’s ban on industrial hemp is. I’m confident that if grassroots support continues to grow and Members of Congress continue to hear from voters then common sense hemp legislation can move through Congress in the near future.”

Industrial hemp is a booming business in Oregon, where it’s used to make ropes, lotion, plastics and clothes among other things. But technically the federal government could crack down since hemp is still categorized as a controlled substance.

Oregon, Washington and Colorado all have ballot measure this November on whether to legalize recreational use of marijuana, setting up another fight between federal law and state laws if the ballot measures are passed.