CHARLESTON, W.Va., February 24, 2014– As first reported by BenSwann.com last month, West Virginia legislators introduced legislation to nullify the federal ban on hemp. Earlier this afternoon the West Virginia State House voted to approve the bill which authorized the production, distribution and sale of industrial hemp within the state. The final vote was 88-8.
The legislation was introduced by Del. Mike Mannypenny (D – Taylor, 49), along with four co-sponsors. HB3011 modifies current state law on industrial hemp “removing the provision that requires an applicant to meet federal requirements concerning the production, distribution and sale of industrial hemp prior to being licensed.”
With the addition of a clause that disregards the requirement for federal permission, the state is asserting its authority to provide authorization for industrial hemp whether the federal government decides to approve or not.
Experts count as many as 25,000 uses for industrial hemp, including food, cosmetics, plastics and bio-fuel. The U.S. is currently the world’s #1 importer of hemp fiber for various products, with China and Canada acting as the top two exporters in the world.
This month, President Barack Obama signed a new farm bill into law, which included a provision allowing a handful of states to begin limited research programs growing hemp. The new “hemp amendment”
…allows State Agriculture Departments, colleges and universities to grow hemp, defined as the non-drug oilseed and fiber varieties of Cannabis, for academic or agricultural research purposes, but it applies only to states where industrial hemp farming is already legal under state law.
Three states – Colorado, Oregon and Vermont – have already passed similar measures. Farmers in SE Colorado started harvesting the plant in 2013, effectively nullifying federal restrictions on such agricultural activities. A hemp nullification bill passed the Washington State House last week. In the same week, Tennessee’s hemp nullification bill moved through sub-committee with unanimous approval.
Industrial hemp is used for a wide variety of purposes including the manufacture of cordage of varying tensile strength, durable clothing and nutritional products. During World War II, the United States military relied heavily on hemp products, which resulted in the famous campaign and government-produced film, “Hemp for Victory!”
Even though soil, climate and agricultural capabilities could make the United States a massive producer of industrial hemp, today no hemp is grown for public sale, use and consumption within the United States. China is the world’s greatest producer and the United States is the #1 importer of hemp and hemp products in the world.
HB3011 now moves on to the full West Virginia state senate where it will first be assigned to a committee for consideration before the full senate has an opportunity to send the bill to Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin for a signature.