Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) renewed his efforts to end the federal ban on industrial hemp cultivation in a speech delivered Thursday.
Under the federal Controlled Substances Act, hemp is classified under marijuana, but according to Wyden, hemp and marijuana are “very, very different in key ways.”
“Industrial hemp does not have the psychoactive properties of marijuana. You’d have as much luck getting high by smoking cotton from a T-shirt as you would by smoking hemp,” Wyden said to his colleagues on the Senate floor.
The senator believes the ban on hemp production has prevented “hardworking American farmers” from having the opportunity to tap into the growing demand for hemp products like soap, lotions and milk.
“The hemp ban, in my view, looks like illegality for the sake of illegality,” Wyden stated.
In January 2015, Wyden introduced the Industrial Hemp Farming Act, which would reclassify hemp and exclude it from the Controlled Substances Act. A bipartisan group of 12 senators, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) have supported the bill.
If this legislation passes, it would have a significant impact on their states, as the federal ban has constrained local efforts to authorize commercial hemp production.