At Vote Hemp we depend entirely on donations to accomplish our goals and none of our efforts in the past ten years would have been possible without contributions from key supporters of Vote Hemp.
Thanks to donations from supporters like you, we were able to accomplish many of our goals in 2009 and we are getting very close to achieving our ultimate goal, legal hemp farming for American farmers. Vote Hemp is making good progress on multiple fronts and we are working on a new and very promising strategy that I want to share with you. But before I tell you about our new strategy, I ask that you make a donation to Vote Hemp on our web site. Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps
has generously agreed to match every dollar you donate, doubling the impact of your contribution:
Let me tell you what we accomplished in 2009 with your help. This was one of our busiest and most productive years yet for hemp legislation with bills introduced in twelve states. Hemp farming legislation passed in Oregon, Maine and North Dakota. Pro-hemp resolutions passed in Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota and Vermont. We also have bills pending or about to be introduced in other states that may get a hearing in 2010, including Colorado, Idaho, Kentucky, Minnesota and Wisconsin. To date sixteen have passed pro-hemp legislation; nine (Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, Vermont and West Virginia) have removed barriers to its production or research.
Passing state legislation is a very important priority for Vote Hemp. In order for all American farmers to be able to grow industrial hemp, we must not only change federal law but also all of the state laws, which confuse industrial hemp and marijuana. We are working to remove those barriers across the country.
Our efforts and success at the state level have helped us build grassroots pressure for change in Congress. In 2009, we grew support for H.R. 1866, the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2009, which now has the most support ever with twenty sponsors. We are also working with the Congressional Research Service on an update to their report Hemp as an Agricultural Commodity for members of Congress. The last report from 2007 is lacking current market growth information, which makes the case for legal hemp farming even stronger.
We have also been working with members of National Farmers Union (NFU), The Grange, and the Farm Bureau to get pro-hemp resolutions passed. The Grange just passed an improved hemp resolution at its annual meeting in November and NFU members will be presenting resolutions at the annual meeting in March, which passed on the state level. New NFU president Roger Johnson is the former Agriculture Commissioner from North Dakota and a strong supporter of hemp farming. Vote Hemp worked closely with Roger Johnson and North Dakota state legislators to pass bills, promulgate hemp farming regulations, and issue the first state hemp farming licenses in 2008.
As a result of those North Dakota state licenses being issued to state Rep. Dave Monson and Wayne Hauge, Vote Hemp was able to assist them in filing for Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) licenses and then later filing suit for to the right to grow hemp under state license without permission from DEA. This was an expensive effort since DEA licenses cost $2,300 each plus the cost of legal representation. The decision on our appeal in the U.S. Court of Appeals For The Eighth Circuit was not in our favor and we are currently weighing our options, but plan to assist the plaintiffs in continuing to push for DEA approval of their license applications. We need your support to continue this effort.
In addition to fighting DEA in court, Vote Hemp staged a protest on the front lawn of DEA headquarters in Arlington, Virginia across from the Pentagon. In October, Vote Hemp board members David Bronner and Steve Levine along with Vote Hemp communications director Adam Eidinger lead a protest of farmers and business owners at the DEA headquarters in Arlington, VA. The protesters planted hemp seeds on the DEA lawn using ceremonial shovels and were arrested for trespassing. To see a video and photos of the protest, please visit:
President Obama has announced his nomination of Michele Leonhart
as DEA Administrator. Ms. Leonhart is currently the Acting DEA Administrator and has served in that role since November 2007. She was confirmed as the DEA Deputy Administrator by the U.S. Senate in 2004 and was nominated for the position by resident George W. Bush in 2003. She is a lifetime DEA bureaucrat and has done nothing to stop DEA's continued interference with hemp farming. We are preparing comments for the Senate Judiciary Committee opposing her nomination.
We have been busy in 2009 for sure, but there is more. I want to share the new promising strategy I mentioned earlier. For the first time in eight years, we have a new President and administration here in Washington, DC and there are is a new approach to medical marijuana policy that has been emerging at the Department of Justice (DOJ), the agency that oversees DEA. In February Attorney General Eric Holder announced that he would be implementing President Obama's campaign promise to stop raids on medical marijuana dispensaries and patients. In October DOJ issued a formal policy stating that they would not prosecute dispensaries or patients who were following state laws. This is precisely the type of solution that Vote Hemp has been fighting for on industrial hemp.
Vote Hemp has made contact with officials at DOJ and brought them up to speed on the current state of the law. We have been working with state officials to request a meeting with DOJ so that they can formally request a policy change to allow them to implement their state hemp farming laws without requiring DEA licenses or the threat of prosecution. We have approached multiple states and expect to see at least four of them sending letters. I'd be willing to bet that you never thought that you would read the sentence "Industrial hemp is not marijuana and does not need to be regulated under the Controlled Substances Act" in a letter from government officials. It has happened. Please click here
to read a copy of the first letter to go out, which is from North Dakota and was signed by the Governor, the Speaker of the House, the Attorney General and the Agriculture Commissioner!
We believe that these letters and all of our other efforts have created the critical mass necessary for change and expect to see the Obama administration review the current policy and make changes to allow for states who have passed hemp farming legislation to move forward.
Another program that is part of this strategy this year is Hemp is Our History Week
, which will be held on May 17 - 23, 2010. A joint project of Vote Hemp and the Hemp Industries Association (HIA), the effort hopes to mobilize at least 50,000 letters to President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder asking them to end the status quo and let farmers grow versatile and profitable industrial hemp. We want you to sign up ASAP to be contacted by our coordinators to begin planning for local town hall meetings to present historical data about hemp farming in your area prior to its prohibition. Please click here
to sign up today.
We are planning to continue to apply pressure on all fronts in 2010, but we can only do it with your continued support. Please consider making a donation of whatever you can afford on Vote Hemp Web site today, remember Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps
will match every dollar you donate: