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Oregon Farmers can Legally Grow Hemp as of Now!Bonnie King Salem-News.com
Oregonians will soon be looking o'er fields of Hemp, after nearly 60 years.
(SALEM, Ore.) - Hemp hasn't been grown in Oregon since 1957, when prohibitionists went on the offensive and demanded a total ban on hemp production... but this spring that all changes.
As of today, the State of Oregon has accepted the rules presented by the committee and will accept applications to become a hemp farmer, handler, or hemp seed producer.
The Rules to Administer Growing, Handling, and Processing Industrial Hemp for the State of Oregon Department of Agriculture that the committee has been working on for the past year was submitted to the Oregon State Official Bulletin on Monday, December 1st. There was a public hearing January 6th, 2015, and the Approved Rules went into effect on February 2nd, 2015.
“This means we can grow Industrial Hemp in Oregon for this next growing season,” said Tim Pate, committee member.
This special day is also commemorated by Pate's birthday. “I normally never celebrate my birthday...kinda been bad luck...but this is one Ground Hog's Day I would love to see repeated in every state of the Union.”
The new law sets up a state-regulated program for farmers to grow industrial hemp which is used in a wide variety of products, and has long had a strong constituency of Oregonians solidly behind legalizing the plant.
Hemp has been around “forever”. The Columbia History of the World states that the oldest relic of human industry is a bit of hemp fabric dating back to approximately 8,000 BC.
Hemp used to be a mainstay for American families, before the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937, which caused most farmers to be reluctant to grow it, and within years it was no more.
Now, it is again growing in popularity and it's good for you! You'll find hemp in many nutritious foods, cosmetics, body care, clothing, tree-free paper, auto parts, building materials, fuels, rope, soaps, and numerous other products that are common throughout the U.S., but all the hemp is imported from Canada, Turkey or a few other countries.
The U.S. is the only industrialized nation in the world that does not recognize the value of industrial hemp and permit its production. Soon, that will be a thing of the past.
Canada legalized the production of industrial hemp in the late 1990s. According to the Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance (CHTA), Canadian farmers planted nearly 39,000 acres of hemp in 2011.
Canadian farmers are reporting net profits of $200 to $250 per acre. A report compiled by Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development estimates gross revenue for Canadian hemp seed production at between $30.75 million and $34 million. Since most Canadian hemp exports come to the United States, it makes sense that farmers here should benefit from this economic boon.
Jack Herer, author of the Emperor Wears No Clothes, well-known as the marijuana Bible and founder of H.E.M.P. (Help End Marijuana Prohibition), was strongly against government intervention or taxation of any kind. “Not one thin dime!” was the last thing Jack said on stage in 2009 before he succumbed to a heart attack that same day.
Many within the movement are wary of this new idea, though most understand that it was, perhaps, inevitable, if it was to be at all.
Still, some have more fiscal concerns for this type of “low THC” hemp farming.
“The rules imposed on low THC hemp by the legislature are overly onerous”, said Paul Stanford, president of The Hemp & Cannabis Foundation. “We need to remove artificial economic barriers put on low THC hemp, which produces a fraction of what it is capable of. Low THC hemp is a distraction caused by prohibition.”
“Hemp should be judged on its food,fuel, and fiber content, not THC,” said Stanford. “The last hemp study was in 1975, in Illinois, on feral hemp. We believe that high THC hemp will produce up to 20 times more food, fuel and fiber. That's 2000 times greater than the low THC hemp that has been approved by the Legislature. So, there is much to be done and the future is great for hemp. This is just a small step forward for hemp farmers.”
Many businesses in Oregon manufacture, market and sell hemp products, including Living Harvest, The Merry Hempsters, Wilderness Poets, Earthbound Creations, Sweetgrass Natural Fibers, Sympatico Clothing, Mama's Herbal Soaps, Hempire and Oregon Hemp Works.
These Oregon-based companies have been on the leading edge of the growing hemp markets, which are currently estimated by the Hemp Industries Association (HIA) to be $581 million in North American annual hemp retail sales in 2013, and that figure is growing annually by 24%.
By allowing U.S. farmers to once again grow hemp, legislators can clear the way for a "New Billion-Dollar Crop." For real.
What Changed in Oregon?
In 2009, the Oregon Legislature approved Senate Bill 676 which "Permits production and possession of industrial hemp and trade in industrial hemp commodities and products”, joining a host of states including Maine, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota and Vermont which all passed pro-hemp laws, resolutions or memorials. Sixteen states have passed pro-hemp legislation to date.
As the years ticked by and the rules were not yet finished, and still no hemp has been planted, it was clear that farmers had a lot of hesitancy to grow hemp, fearing prosecution by the Drug Enforcement Administration for “possession”, since under federal law, hemp is in the same “Schedule I” category as marijuana, professing it to be one of the most dangerous substances to mankind.
Oregon moved marijuana to a Schedule II status years ago, but the Federal Government has stuck to it's rhetoric and maintained it's resolve to not treat marijuana in an honest manner. So, hemp farming has not taken off. Yet.
On August 29, 2013, a memoradum from the Department of Justice was sent out, creating an immediate renewed interest in industrial hemp. The memo suggested that as long as state and local governments that allow hemp do a good job regulating it, the feds would be unlikely to enforce federal drug law.
As an additional affirmation, Congressmen from Oregon and Kentucky added a provision to the 2014 Farm Bill that effectively separated hemp grown for research from marijuana. Then they put another provision into the $1.1 trillion spending bill that prohibits the Drug Enforcement Administration and Justice Department from prosecuting farmers who grow hemp as extensions of the research programs.
So, Oregon appointed a state Rules Advisory Committee, made up of representatives from Oregon State University, Oregon State Police, representative staff from the offices of State Senator Floyd Prozanski, and US Representative Earl Blumenauer, as well as members of the Hemp industry, and they have worked for over a year to develop rules and regulations for growers, handlers and transporters of industrial hemp.
There are some states, like North Dakota, where farmers are in a federal court battle over their rights to grow hemp under state law without fear of federal prosecution, we hope to circumvent that issue because the new law in Oregon does not require a federal permit to grow industrial hemp.
"Under current federal policy, industrial hemp can be imported, but it cannot be grown by American farmers. Hemp is an environmentally-friendly crop that has not been grown commercially in the U.S. for over fifty years because of a politicized and misguided interpretation of the nation's drug laws by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA),” comments Vote Hemp Director, Patrick Goggin.
Nineteen states currently have laws to provide for hemp pilot studies and/or for production as described by the Farm Bill stipulations (California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont and West Virginia). Oregon and 7 others (California, Colorado, Maine, Montana, North Dakota, Vermont and West Virginia) sponsored hemp resolutions and have laws to promote the growth and marketing of industrial hemp.
What the Rules Mean to Future Hemp Farmers
Spring planting will be a reality for many Oregon hemp farmers this year. To get legal, one or all of 3 licensing fees is applied to any one that wants to grow or handle hemp or hemp seed.
An individual must obtain a license for growing Industrial Hemp, and/or a license for handling Industrial Hemp, and a permit when growing or handling Agricultural HempSeed. Each is $1500 and is good for three years.
In addition, the cost of services for Sampling and Inspection will be charged (as described in OAR 603-048-0700), which is a minimum charge of four hours of service at $92 per hour; travel time at $92 per hour; and mileage, lodging and per diem reimbursement.
The licensees or permit holders shall allow Department officials to enter Industrial Hemp fields or handling facilities for inspection; sampling and testing for tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content of all fields annually when at least 50% of plants’ seeds are resistant to compression.
A composite sample weighing no less than 2 pounds, for each variety in a field, shall be taken by the Department for official testing. They will then divide the sample equally into 2 one pound samples; one will be tested for THC and the other will be held by the department as a file sample.
Current Oregon state policies include:
The license application form is not “live” yet, but is expected to be online this week (Feb. 2-6, 2015) on the Oregon Department of Agriculture’s website.
Future farmers may then download the application, complete the form, and mail it in to the Oregon Department of Agriculture along with the licensing fee(s).
One Last DebacleAccording to Hemp.org, the fate of the 2015 Oregon hemp crop will depend on how timely the DEA approves the Oregon Department of Agriculture’s application to import the seeds. That's right.... under federal law, acquiring hemp seeds is considered “importing a Schedule 1 substance,” and requires a DEA permit.
Never a dull moment, when you're dealing with the government.
Hemp! Hemp! Hooray!
SOURCES: Vote Hemp, Hemp.org, Bend Bulletin, OMMP, theHIA.org.
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