Why Congress Should Legalize Industrial Hemp Farming

Industrial hemp has many advantages. It is helpful for the soil, environment and the economy. Yet growing or farming industrial hemp in the United States is illegal. Bills have been introduced to legalize hemp farming and not acted on. It is a great cash

Industrial Hemp is the perfect cash crop that grows like a weed, but growing it in the United States is currently illegal and has been since the 1930’s. Bills have recently been introduced in the U. S. Congress and the U.S. Senate to legalize the growing or farming of industrial hemp in the United States. As of today, these bills have not been acted on.

Making it legal to grow industrial hemp is not about the legalization of smoking pot or marijuana or getting high. It is about the legalization of industrial hemp for industrial products, and there is a difference between industrial hemp and the type of hemp or marijuana that is used to get high with. 

Industrial Hemp Bills in the U.S Congress and Senate

  • S. 3501: The Industrial Hemp Farming of 2012 was introduced by Senator Ron Wyden [D-Oregon]. This bill is to amend the Controlled Substances Act that will exclude industrial hemp from the definition of marihuana (marijuana).
  • H.R. 1831: Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2011 is a re-introduction of H.R. 1866 in 2009. This bill was sponsored by Rep. Ronald (Ron) Paul [R-Texas14]. 

The Differences Between Hemp and Marijuana

With the war on drugs in the U.S., the common question asked is, can you get high smoking industrial hemp. Rep. Ron Paul said, it is his understanding, that in order to get high smoking industrial hemp, the joint would have to be the size of a telephone pole [1].

According to the Arizona Industrial Hemp Council, hemp is an English word for the varieties of the cannabis plant like industrial hemp that is used for making products like wood, fuel, fibers and food.

Marijuana is a Spanish word usually meant to describe the type of cannabis plant bred over time for medical and recreational uses.

The wording of the bill in the U.S. Congress defines industrial hemp as the “Cannabis sativa L. and any part of such plant, whether growing or not, with a delta-nine tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.”

Main Reasons to Legalize Industrial Hemp in the U.S.

There are many reasons why growing industrial hemp in the United States should be legal including:

  • It is easy to grow and would be a great cash crop for small farmers.
  • Products made from hemp are better for the environment than many current products and chemicals used.
  • Industrial hemp as a crop can help refurbished overused soil.
  • It would put more Americans to work and the U.S. would not have to import industrial hemp from other countries anymore.

Industrial Hemp, the Soil and the Environment

Not only does industrial hemp have many industrial uses, it is also good for environmental reasons including:

  • It can be grown almost anywhere, including deserts and short growing season areas.
  • It is great for the soil. It is fast growing and puts out 12” long roots in just 30 days, which can help the soil.
  • Industrial hemp requires very little water compared with other crops.
  • Farmers can use industrial hemp as a rotation crop, which can rejuvenate the soil.
  • It can out grow and out-compete weeds, so it needs little if any herbicides.
  • Industrial Hemp also requires very little if any pesticides.
  • It does not take very much fertilizer to successfully grow industrial hemp.
  • It can also be used as a replacement for corn based ethanol as an alternative fuel. Growing corn can take a lot of nutrients out of the soil while industrial hemp can actually give back nutrients.

With the current drought conditions in the United States, rising corn based food prices and food shortages throughout the world, growing industrial hemp as a source for ethanol makes a great deal of sense. Fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides are made from petroleum products and using less reduces our needs for these petroleum products and is better for the environment.

Products Industrial Hemp is Used For

The list of products we use every day that can be made with industrial hemp is a long list that include:

  • Paper and wood. Industrial hemp as been used as paper as far back as 770 AD in China and drafts of the United States Constitution were written on hemp paper. Hemp can yield as much as four times more pulp per acre compared to trees.  Hemp takes 120 days to mature, compare that to trees that take decades to mature.
  • Food: Hemp seeds are an important source of protein. Many of today’s leading protein shakes are made from industrial hemp. Hemp seeds contain more protein and essential fatty acids than soybeans.
  • Textiles and clothing: Industrial hemp bark is the strongest plant fiber and is rot resistant. It can be made into clothing, rope and all types of fabric needs.
  • Industrial hemp is also used in biodegradable inks, paints and plastic products.
  • Building products: Hemp is stronger than normal fiber board. In France, a mixture of hemp, water and lime is used to make cement that is used in the building of 300 homes per year. 

Industrial Hemp Conclusion

There are no good reasons why the growing of industrial hemp in the United States is illegal at this time. We can import it, we can sell products made from industrial hemp, but we cannot grow it. There are many uses for industrial hemp and there are many environmental advantages with industrial hemp. It really is the perfect cash crop that grows like a weed. 

Copyright © Sam Montana September 2012

References and resources

[1] Dr. Ron Paul video - Greener Living

GovTrack Bill HR 1831

GovTrack Bill S 3501

North American Industrial Hemp Council

Arizona Industrial Hemp Council

Cover Photo – Hemp farm in France by Aleks


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