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Activists Celebrate Milestone Moment, One Step Closer to Hemp Legalization

Maureen Meehan

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The National Hemp Association (NHA) recently announced that it had reached its goal of gathering over 130,000 signatures on its petition to Congress to “Allow American Farmers to Grow Industrial Hemp.”

The signature drive campaign began on January 20 through Change.org and related campaigns established to legalize industrial hemp cultivation in the United States.

The NHA will present its petition at the annual “Hemp on the Hill Expo and Conversation” to be held in Washington, D.C. on February 28, hosted by several congress people including Congressman Earl Blumenauer and Senator Ron Wyden, both Democrats from Oregon, and Kentucky Democrat, Congressman James Comer.

According to the NHA, the organization intends to celebrate its signature milestone with key supporters of new hemp legislation, the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2017, to be introduced by Congressman Comer, in the current 115th Congress. As Kentucky’s former agriculture commissioner, Comer was instrumental in getting the hemp industry up and running, introducing several successful pilot projects in his home state.

“We’ve proven the crop is economically viable,” Comer said. “We’ve proven it’s not a drug. The next step is to begin to deregulate. And that’s what I’m going to do with legislation that I’ll be filing in the next week.”

Congressional leaders are being asked to utilize the signatures in further support of efforts to change the DEA’s decision to reclassify hemp as a Schedule I drug and to promote hemp as a viable agricultural crop.

In related news, Hemp Industries Association (HIA) filed a motion on January 13, seeking to block the implementation of the DEA’s rescheduling of hemp in which it refers to the non-psychoactive cannabinoids in hemp as a “marihuana extract.” The DEA does not have the authority to change or increase the Controlled Substances Act; that power resides with Congress.

It is worth noting that the United States consumes a great deal of the world’s hemp, yet permits only limited cultivation and processing.

The U.S. is also the only member country of the Group of Seven(G7)—an informal bloc of industrialized democracies, which also includes Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the UK—that prohibits full acceptance and cultivation of hemp under federal law.

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