Hemp measure survives House vote, could soon arrive on Oregon farms

Rep. Earl Blumenauer is upset with the House's final farm bill version but is pleased that a hemp research amendment made the cut.
Cathy Cheney | Portland Business Journal

Rep. Earl Blumenauer is upset with the House's final farm bill version but is pleased that a hemp research amendment made the cut.

The U.S. House-passed farm bill contains a provision that could make industrial hemp farming legal after all.

While Rep. Earl Blumenauer and other Democrats blasted the bill's final version, the Portland Democrat lauded the amendment that would allow colleges and universities to grow and cultivate industrial hemp for academic and agricultural research purposes.

“I’m disappointed by the Farm Bill as a whole, but glad to see these unnecessary restrictions on hemp were eased," Blumenauer said. "Our fear of industrial hemp is misplaced. It is not a drug. By allowing colleges and universities to cultivate hemp for research, Congress sends a signal that we are ready to examine hemp in a different and more appropriate context.”

The House passed the Farm Bill by a 216-208 count last Thursday. Each of the 196 Democrats in the House voted against it.

The omnibus measure — it's reauthorized every five years or so — aims to coax rural business development and provide better nutrition to poorer Americans. This year's version calls for $1 trillion in various programs.

Congressional leaders are debating whether to take the measure to a House-Senate conference committee in an effort to reconcile the two chambers' different bills.

The hemp measure would only apply in states such as Oregon where industrial hemp growth and cultivation is already legal.

Oregon is one of 18 states that have passed pro-hemp legislation.Industrial hemp can be used for paper, clothing, rope and biofuels.

The material is controversial because it contains tetrahydrocannabinol, an active ingredient in marijuana.

Blumenauer had pushed for the hemp amendment to make the farm bill's final cut along with Colorado Democratic Rep. Jared Polis and Kentucky Republican Rep. Thomas Massie.

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