For Immediate Release
Tuesday, August 1, 2006
Patrick Goggin 415-312-0084
Adam Eidinger 202-744-2671
Passage of CA Hemp Bill Would
Benefit California Economy and Environment
AB 1147 Heads to Final Votes
SACRAMENTO, CA —
Vote Hemp, the nation's leading grassroots organization
working to revitalize U.S. industrial hemp production,
urges California editorial writers to support AB
1147, The California Industrial Hemp Farming Act,
as final Senate and Assembly votes are expected in August.
This landmark bipartisan legislation would establish
guidelines for farming the non-psychoactive plant used
in a wide variety of everyday consumer products, including
food, body care, clothing, paper, auto parts and bio-fuel.
Since passing out of the Assembly in January,
AB 1147 has gained momentum as more legislators learn
that California businesses spend millions of dollars
each year importing hemp from Canada, China and Europe.
Demand for hemp products has been growing rapidly in
recent years. The U.S. hemp market now exceeds $270
million in estimated annual retail sales. The new law
would give farmers the ability to legally supply California
manufacturers with hemp seed, oil and fiber.
For the environment, the agricultural
benefits are not limited to the versatility of uses.
Industrial hemp is an excellent rotational crop because
it naturally reduces nematode populations (microscopic
worms that eat crops), while its dense growth smothers
weeds. Hemp requires less water and agricultural chemicals
than other crops and has deep roots that leave the soil
in excellent condition for the next crop. These benefits
save farmers money and reduce the amount of pesticides,
defoliants and chemical fertilizer that runs into our
The primary reason industrial hemp has
not been grown in the U.S. since the 1950s is a perceived
similarity to marijuana; however, the plants are very
different. The industrial hemp plant's stalk is long
and strong, has few branches, has been bred for maximum
production of seed, and grows up to 16 feet in height.
It is planted in densities of 100 to 300 plants per
square yard. On the other hand, marijuana is a tropical
variety of cannabis that grows up to 6 feet in height
and has been bred to have many branches to maximize
flowering sites and minimize seeds. It is planted with
wide spaces between plants to enhance its bushiness.
Marijuana growers kill male pollinating plants to promote
flower growth, while industrial hemp farmers leave the
male plants as they are crucial to seed production.
The California Industrial Hemp Act was
introduced in February of 2005 by Democratic Assemblyman
Leno. This year, the bill was amended, and Republican
Devore joined as a co-author. AB 1147 has been carefully
crafted to comply with federal law and minimize impact
to law enforcement. It includes tough regulations without
placing an undue burden on farmers. The bill only permits
cultivation of industrial hemp when grown as an agricultural
field crop or in a research setting. Backyard or horticultural
cultivation is prohibited. Any clandestine grove of
cannabis is considered marijuana regardless of THC content.
Prior to harvest, a farmer must obtain
a laboratory test report from a DEA-registered laboratory
documenting the THC content of the crop. Farmers must
retain a copy of the test report for two years from
its date of sampling, make it available to law enforcement
officials upon request, and provide a copy to each person
purchasing, transporting or otherwise obtaining the
oil, cake or seed of the plant. Crops that exceed the
0.3% THC limit must be destroyed.
To eliminate the possibility that industrial
hemp could be mistaken for marijuana, the bill does
not include the leaves or flowering tops among the legal
parts of the industrial hemp plant. Regardless of THC
content, leaves and flowers that are removed from the
field of cultivation are not considered industrial hemp.
Hemp flowers have no psychoactive effects or current
legal commercial application. Nevertheless, it is important
to prevent marijuana defendants from making the specious
claim that confiscated marijuana leaves and flowers
are industrial hemp. The bright-line definitions and
requirements in AB 1147 ensure that law enforcement
will not be negatively impacted.
Vote Hemp's goal is to relieve California
farmers of the over-reaching prohibition on industrial
hemp cultivation. California must assert its right to
regulate industrial hemp as permitted by the U.S. Constitution,
the U.S. Congress and the 2004 9th U.S. Circuit Court
decision in HIA v
DEA. The legislation clarifies that the cultivation
of industrial hemp is legal on the condition it contains
no more than three tenths of one percent (0.3%) tetrahydrocannabinol
Final passage of AB 1147 could revitalize
commercial industrial hemp farming, which occurred in
the state until shortly after World War II. Farmers
have high expectations for the crop, given the exceptionally
large hemp yields that California farmers once achieved
and the great strides made in agricultural irrigation
and mechanization since hemp was last grown.
From natural soaps to healthy foods, there
are a variety of "Made in California" hemp
products that could benefit from an in-state source
of hemp seed, fiber and oil. According to the Hemp
Industries Association (HIA), there are over 50
member businesses that make or sell hemp products in
Support for state
action on industrial hemp farming is growing among
U.S. manufacturers whose appetite for hemp fiber, seed
and oil is fueling the increased demand. For example,
in the automotive industry, industrial hemp is used
in the natural fiber composites that have rapidly replaced
fiberglass as the material of choice for vehicle interiors.
FlexForm, an Indiana manufacturer whose hemp-content
materials are found in an estimated 2.5 million vehicles
in North America today, uses approximately 250,000 pounds
of hemp fiber per year. The company says industrial
hemp could easily take a greater share of the 4 million
pounds of natural fiber it uses yearly, as "hemp
fiber possesses physical properties beneficial to our
natural fiber-based composites." In addition, FlexForm
says it would "gladly expand domestic purchases."
an environmentally-conscious outdoor clothing manufacturer
and retailer that sells hemp clothing at Whole
Foods, has recently added its name to the list of
businesses that support California's hemp bill. That
list already includes Dr.
Bronner's Magic Soaps (North America's top-selling
natural soap company), Alterna
(a high-end salon hair products company) and Nutiva
(a rising star among innovative health food companies)
— all three of which are based in California.
Sales of hemp foods in 2004/2005 grew
by 50% over the previous 12-month period. U.S. retail
sales of hemp products are estimated to now be $250
to $300 million per year.
Currently seven states
(Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Montana, North Dakota
and West Virginia) have changed their laws to give farmers
an affirmative right to grow industrial hemp commercially
or for research purposes. California's AB
1147 already passed a series of committee votes
and a floor vote in the Assembly. Final votes in the
Senate and Assembly are expected before the end of August.
More information about industrial hemp
legislation and the crop's many uses may be found at
BETA SP or DVD Video News Release featuring footage
of hemp farming in other countries is available upon
request by contacting Adam Eidinger at 202-744-2671.