The United States House of Representatives voted 225-220 on Thursday to remove the US government prohibition on colleges and universities growing industrial hemp for research purposes in compliance with state laws. The vote was taken on an amendment offered by Rep. Jared Polis and cosponsors Reps. Earl Blumenauer and Thomas Massie during consideration of the farm bill (H.R. 1947). While the farm bill failed to pass in the House, the amendment vote has established majority support in the House for some rollback of US government restrictions on growing hemp.
The majority support for the House amendment is particularly significant given that the US Drug Enforcement Administration was distributing talking points in opposition. While their talking points claimed a DEA permit was the only requirement to grow hemp, they conveniently failed to mention North Dakota farmers Wayne Hauge and David Monson, whose attempts to obtain DEA permits to grow hemp proved futile.
The House amendment approved this week is narrower in scope than Massie’s Industrial Hemp Farming Act (H.R. 525) that would entirely eliminate the Controlled Substances Act prohibition on growing hemp. Sen. Ron Wyden introduced his similar companion Senate bill (S. 359) as an amendment to the Senate’s farm bill earlier this year, but no vote was obtained on Wyden’s amendment.
Watch the House floor debate on the hemp amendment here: