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For Immediate Release
Monday, June 27, 2005

CONTACT: Adam Eidinger 202-744-2671

Industrial Hemp Farming Act Introduced at Packed Capitol Hill Hemp Food Lunch
HR 3037 Would Give States the Right to Regulate Farming of Versatile Hemp Plant

WASHINGTON, DC — For the first time since the federal government outlawed hemp farming in the United States, a federal bill has been introduced that would remove restrictions on the cultivation of non-psychoactive industrial hemp. At a Capitol Hill lunch on June 23 to mark the introduction of H.R. 3037, the "Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2005," about 100 congressional staff feasted on Bahama Hempnut Crusted Wild Salmon and Fuji Fennel Hempseed Salad. The five-course gourmet hemp meal was prepared by Executive Chef Denis Cicero of the New York City-based Galaxy Global Eatery.

At the luncheon the chief sponsor of the bill, Representative Ron Paul (R-TX), described how H.R. 3037 will remove federal barriers to U.S. hemp farming by returning the regulation of hemp to the states. "It is unfortunate that the federal government has stood in the way of American farmers, including many who are struggling to make ends meet, competing in the global industrial hemp market," said Dr. Paul. "Indeed the founders of our nation, some of whom grew hemp, surely would find that federal restrictions on farmers growing a safe and profitable crop on their own land are inconsistent with the constitutional guarantee of a limited, restrained federal government. Therefore, I urge my colleagues to stand up for American farmers and co-sponsor the Industrial Hemp Farming Act." Dr. Paul was joined by five original co-sponsors, including Reps. Sam Farr (D-CA), Pete Stark (D-CA), Jim McDermott (D-WA), George Miller (D-CA) and Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ). The bill may be viewed here.

At the luncheon consumer advocate Ralph Nader called the U.S. ban on hemp farming "bureaucratic medievalism" because over 30 industrialized countries are growing hemp and the U.S. is the number one importer of the crop, but won't allow domestic cultivation. A highlight video of the speakers may be viewed online here.

Representing farming interests at the event was North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Roger Johnson. "Industrial hemp is used in a tremendous variety of products, including food products, soap, cosmetics, fertilizer, textiles, paper, paints and plastics," Johnson said. "Once the crop is legalized in this country, I believe science will find even more uses for industrial hemp, uses that will make industrial hemp a popular and profitable crop."

North Dakota State Rep. David Monson (R-Osnabrock), a farmer who successfully sponsored several bills in the North Dakota State Legislature regulating the production and research of industrial hemp, said "industrial hemp production is on hold in North Dakota and the entire U.S. due to roadblocks in Washington, D.C. We have had tremendous bipartisan support for legislation we've introduced in North Dakota."

U.S. companies that manufacture or sell products made with hemp include Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, the number-one-selling natural soap, Interface, the world's largest manufacturer of commercial carpet and carpet tiles, FlexForm Technologies, an Indiana company whose natural fiber materials are found in 1.5 million cars, Alterna, a professional hair care company whose hemp products are beloved by Julia Roberts and other celebrities, California-based Nutiva Hemp Foods, and adidas USA which has been selling hemp sneakers since 1995. Although hemp grows wild across the U.S., a vestige of centuries of hemp farming, the hemp for these products must be imported.

There is widespread support among national organizations for a change in the federal government's position on hemp. The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) "supports revisions to the federal rules and regulations authorizing commercial production of industrial hemp." The National Grange "supports research, production, processing and marketing of industrial hemp as a viable agricultural activity."

Numerous individual states have also expressed interest in industrial hemp. Twenty-six states have introduced hemp legislation and six (Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine, Montana, North Dakota and West Virginia) have removed barriers to its production or research. Rep. Paul’s bill will allow laws in these states regulating the growing and processing of industrial hemp to take effect.

"Industrial hemp has become a lucrative crop for farmers in Europe, Canada and Asia, so farmers here are asking 'Why are we being left out?'" says Alexis Baden-Mayer, Director of Government Relations for Vote Hemp. For thousands of years different varieties of Cannabis have been cultivated for non-drug uses such as paper, canvas, soap, food, building materials and recently high-tech bio-composites used in automobiles. Hemp and marijuana come from different varieties of the Cannabis plant.

"Because there are millions of cars on the road with hemp door panels, tens of millions of dollars are spent annually on hemp food and hemp body care, and hemp paper is being made in the U.S., people are asking tough questions about why the U.S. government won't distinguish low-THC hemp from high-THC drug varieties. I believe this federal legislation will gain momentum over the next year as we spend time educating Congress and their constituents about the need for reform," says Baden-Mayer.

For more information on industrial hemp, please visit www.VoteHemp.com, the Web site of Vote Hemp, a non-profit organization dedicated to the acceptance of industrial hemp.

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