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For Immediate Release
Friday, September 22, 2006

CONTACT:
Patrick Goggin 415-312-0084
Adam Eidinger 202-744-2671
adam@votehemp.com

Governor's Decision on California Industrial Hemp Farming Act Expected by September 30
If Signed, New Law Sets Guidelines to Grow Industrial Hemp Banned for 50 Years

SACRAMENTO, CA — With a deadline of September 30 just a week away, California farmers, environmentalists and business leaders look forward to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's decision on whether to sign AB 1147, "The California Industrial Hemp Farming Act." This landmark, bipartisan legislation establishes guidelines for farming industrial hemp as an agricultural crop, which is used in a wide variety of everyday consumer products, including food, body care, clothing, paper and auto parts. Many hemp products are already manufactured in California and other states using hemp grown in Canada, Europe and China.

Demand for hemp products has been growing rapidly in recent years. The U.S. hemp market now exceeds an estimated $270 million in annual retail sales. The new law will give farmers the ability to legally supply California manufacturers who currently import hemp seed, oil and fiber and 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 (THC). The new law would not legalize marijuana cultivation.

AB 1147 was introduced in February 2005 by Democratic Assemblyman Mark Leno. This year, the bill was amended and Republican Assemblyman Chuck Devore joined as a co-author. The California Industrial Hemp Farming Act passed its final vote in the Senate on August 16 by a margin of 26-13 and passed its final vote in the Assembly on August 21 by a margin of 44-29.

The new law would challenge the federal government's misguided ban on non-psychoactive hemp farming and would likely trigger a legal battle between California farmers and the federal government. It has the support of numerous organizations, including California Certified Organic Farmers, California State Grange, Rainforest Action Network, Organic Consumers Association, Sierra Club and Hemp Industries Association, and well-known businesses that make or sell hemp products, such as Patagonia, Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps, Alterna Professional Haircare, Whole Foods Market and Nutiva Foods.

The last commercial hemp crops in the United States were grown in central Wisconsin in 1957. The primary reason industrial hemp has not been grown in the U.S. since then is because of its misclassification as a Schedule I drug in the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) of 1970. However, the CSA exempts hemp from control, which is why it can be imported.

The industrial hemp plant's stalk is long and strong, has few branches, has been bred for maximum production of fiber and/or seed, and grows up to 16 feet in height. Hemp is planted in densities of 100 to 300 plants per square yard. More facts about hemp can be found at www.VoteHemp.com.

California must assert its right to regulate industrial hemp as permitted by the U.S. Constitution and the 2004 9th U.S. Circuit Court decision in HIA v DEA. Seven states (Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Montana, North Dakota and West Virginia) have already changed their laws to give farmers an affirmative right to grow industrial hemp commercially or for research purposes; however, unlike California's AB 1147, all require a license from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to grow the crop. Only Hawaii has grown hemp in recent years, but the research program ended when the DEA refused to renew the license.

Vote Hemp is a non-profit organization dedicated to the acceptance of and a free market for industrial hemp and to changes in current law to allow U.S. farmers to grow low-THC industrial hemp. More information about hemp legislation and the crop's many uses may be found at www.VoteHemp.com and www.HempIndustries.org. 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.

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