Friday, May 23, 2014

Victory! DEA returns 250+ Pounds of Hemp Seed to Kentucky Agriculture

In February 2014, Kentucky announced that it would have five pilot programs at higher learning institutions across the state this spring to research hemp production. As part of the program, the state imported 250 pounds of hemp seed, which was impounded by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). On Wednesday, May 14, The Agricultural Department for the state of Kentucky filed a lawsuit against the DEA, the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol and the Federal Justice Department to gain access to their imported seeds. The seeds were just released and will be will be planted as soon as next week after the long memorial day weekend.  Other states, such as Tennessee have voted to raise hemp and the governor signed the bill into law on May 14th. On May 20, Agricultural Secretary Tom Vilsack announced at a press conference in Denver that he is working out details with Attorney General Eric Holder to settle the conflict between the Farm Bill’s hemp production statement and federal drug laws. 

As a result of the federal prohibition on domestic production, today all hemp products used in the United States are imported from other countries, such as China, Canada, Russia, South Korea and parts of Europe. Hopefully this is about to change. The most recent U.S. Farm Bill allows for states that have passed laws making industrial hemp production legal, to begin researching hemp as a potential crop. While the Farm Bill does not make it federally legal to raise hemp in the U.S., it does protect researchers and farmers from federal government crackdown in the following 12 states that have already passed laws restoring hemp production legality: Kentucky, California, Oregon, North Dakota, Montana, Colorado, Indiana, Nebraska, Utah, Vermont, Maine and West Virginia.

Just because hemp cultivation has been illegal in the memory of a generation or two, does not mean it has always been this way. Hemp has been a part of the United States from colonial times until the production of any Cannabis plant was restricted in this country in 1937 by the Marijuana Tax Act. The first hemp in what is now the U.S. arrived in 1645 with the Puritans in Massachusetts. Cultivation of hemp quickly spread to other colonies, where it became an important crop for cordage, rope and sailcloth used in sailing vessels, as well as other applications. George Washington even grew hemp on his plantation around 1765 to replace tobacco cultivation, because it was such a valued crop. Hemp was grown extensively in the US from 1940-1960 in part because of the need for rope and fabric during World War II. At one point hemp production reached 68 thousand tons. By the 1970s, the raising of any member of the Cannabis family, including hemp, was completely outlawed.

Aquarian Bath supports growing this valuable crop in the U.S.A. legally. We use Canadian hemp oil for many of our shampoo bars and soaps. We use Chinese hemp textiles to make our flaxseed therapy pillows and new washcloths.  We hope to someday soon to make products with USA hemp oil and USA cloth.  We will be sharing more on Hemp cultivation and industrial uses for this plant in upcoming blog posts, so please subscribe to our blog if this topic interests you.
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