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Letter to Senators Debbit Stabenow and Thad Cochran and Representatives Frank Lucas and Collin Peterson - Allow Institutions of Higher Education to be able to Grow and Cultivate Hemp for Research Purposes

Today, Representatives Jared Polis, Thomas Massie, and Earl Blumenauer called for the inclusion of language previously approved by the House, allowing institutions of higher education to grow and cultivate industrial hemp for research purposes in the final FARRM bill conference report. In June, Polis, Massie, and Blumenauer, successfully passed an amendment to H.R. 2642, the House passed Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act, allowing for industrial hemp research. The amendment passed with broad bipartisan support by a 225-200 margin, indicating widespread understanding that legislators are listening to the American public who now see industrial hemp as an agricultural commodity, not a drug.

"In Colorado and in states across the country, voters have sent a clear signal: hemp is not a drug. It's an agricultural commodity with the potential to bring jobs and economic development to farming communities throughout the US, and the federal government should allow states to regulate its production if they so choose," stated Rep. Polis. "At the very least, we should allow American universities, like Colorado State University in my district, to research the benefits and risks of growing this important crop. I'm pleased that a bipartisan majority agreed to include this simple amendment in the House-passed FARRM bill, and I am optimistic that Senate will look at the facts of the issue and ensure that any conference report include this common sense provision to allow further research of industrial hemp."

"The House-approved research amendment is the first step toward restoring the rights of American farmers and businesses to profit from this crop, and I encourage my colleagues in the Senate to keep the amendment in the final version of the Farm Bill," said Rep. Massie. "Hemp is not a drug, and it is our goal that the research this amendment enables would further broadcast the economic benefits of the sustainable and job--creating crop."

"Hemp can be used in thousands of different products, and all of those are legal to make right here in the US," said Rep. Blumenauer. "But we have these laws that just make no sense at all so we have to import hemp. Why are we doing this? Why don't we give farmers in the US, including my home state of Oregon, a chance to grow this product? Allowing research institutions to grow and study industrial hemp is a good first step, and will show that we're willing to take the necessary steps to get the federal government out of the way of farmers and business."

The letter (text below) was signed by a coalition of 25 Republican and Democratic Members of Congress.

September 26, 2013

The Honorable Debbie Stabenow The Honorable Frank Lucas
Chairwoman Chairman
Senate Committee on Agriculture House Committee on Agriculture
328A Russell Senate Office Building 1301 Longworth House Office Building|
Washington, D.C. 20510 Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable Thad Cochran The Honorable Collin Peterson
Ranking Member Ranking Member
Senate Committee on Agriculture House Committee on Agriculture
328A Russell Senate Office Building 1305 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510 Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Chairwoman Stabenow, Chairman Lucas, Ranking Member Cochran, and Ranking Member Peterson:

We write to urge you to include language approved by the House, which would allow institutions of higher education to grow and cultivate industrial hemp for research purposes, in the final FARRM bill conference report.

As you may know, American retailers sell over $300 million worth of products containing hemp seeds and fibers every year. Hemp finds its way into more than 25,000 different products around the world, from lotions to protein bars to auto parts to fuel. However, because of outdated laws preventing the growth and cultivation of industrial hemp in the United States, American farmers can't grow hemp, meaning our businesses are forced to import it from China, Canada, and other countries. Furthermore, our institutions of higher education are prohibited from growing or cultivating hemp for research purposes.

In June of this year, the House approved an amendment, introduced by Representatives Jared Polis, Thomas Massie and Earl Blumenauer, by a 225-200 margin that would allow accredited colleges and universities to grow and cultivate industrial hemp for research purposes, in states where such conduct is already legal. The amendment received broad Democratic and Republican support, indicating widespread understanding that industrial hemp is an agricultural commodity, not a drug. The text of the Polis-Massie-Blumenauer amendment was included in H.R. 2642, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act, which the House approved in July.

Despite the misleading claims made by this amendment's opponents, hemp is not marijuana. Our amendment defines industrial hemp as a product containing less than 0.3 percent THC. At this concentration, and even at much higher concentrations, it is physically impossible to use hemp as a drug.

In fact, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew hemp. From Colorado to Kentucky to Oregon, voters across the country have made it clear that they believe industrial hemp should be regulated as an agricultural commodity, not a drug. At the very least, we should allow our universities to research the potential benefits and downsides of this important agricultural resource.

Given the widespread support that the Polis-Massie-Blumenauer amendment received in the House, we urge you to include it in any legislation presented to the House and Senate for final passage. We look forward to working with you to ensure that this language is included in the final conference report.

Sincerely,

Jared Polis
Thomas Massie
Earl Blumenauer
Dana Rohrabacher
John Yarmuth
Steve Cohen
Steve Daines
Yvette Clarke
Mark Pocan
Jim Moran
Alan Lowenthal
Kurt Schrader
Suzanne Bonamici
Andy Barr
Peter Welch
Eleanor Holmes Norton
Peter DeFazio
Steve Stockman
Jared Huffman
Matt Cartwright
Raúl Grijalva
Sam Farr
Barbara Lee
Beto O'Rourke
Trey Radel

Members of Congress


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