Good news for troubled farmers and stoney bros who like hemp beanies: Yesterday, the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2013 was introduced into the U.S. House by Reps. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) and Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.). A companion bill is expected to be introduced in the Senate later this month.
Let’s be honest here: A Democrat from Oregon seems like an obvious pick to back a hemp bill. But Kentucky’s Massie is bucking the pervasive American right-wing perception of hemp as a smokable, dangerous narcotic and not a sustainable industrial material.
“Industrial hemp is a sustainable crop and could be a great economic opportunity for Kentucky farmers,” Massie said in a statement. “My wife and I are raising our children on the tobacco and cattle farm where my wife grew up. Tobacco is no longer a viable crop for many of us in Kentucky, and we understand how hard it is for a family farm to turn a profit these days. Industrial hemp will give small farmers another opportunity to succeed.”
This is the fifth time a federal hemp bill has been introduced since 2005, which doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in its chances of success. However: The first four times, it was mainly sponsored by Ron Paul. This time the bill has 30 cosponsors, eight of whom are Republicans.
Already 19 individual states have legalized industrial hemp farming. If change is ever going to reach the federal level, it’ll likely have to come from conservatives who can make a strong economic argument and trot out some nice beer-drinking Southern Joe Farmers wearing hemp overalls. To convince scared conservatives of the difference between “marihuana” and hemp, some anti-drug scaremongering is probably on the horizon, too.
Maybe the U.N. was wrong. Maybe 2013 shouldn’t be the Year of Quinoa — it should be the Year of Hemp.