The letter below is from Sen. Maria Cantwell to a Vote Hemp supporter in reply to a letter asking her to introduce a Senate version of the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2009.
Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA)
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July 29, 2010
Thank you for contacting me about industrial hemp. I appreciate hearing from you on this issue, and regret the delayed response.
As you may know, the 1970 Controlled Substances Act restricted the production of all varieties of Cannabis sativa, including the varieties with low levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the psychoactive chemical found in the drug marijuana. These varieties are often referred to as "industrial hemp." Following the listing of Cannabis sativa under the Controlled Substances Act, cultivation of hemp became illegal without a permit from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
The DEA has granted only one permit to date, citing fears that cultivation of industrial hemp will increase the clandestine production of high-THC marijuana. The permit was granted for an experimental plot in Hawaii in the 1990s, and has since expired. Applications for permits can be obtained from the DEA. The branch nearest you is located in Seattle, and can be reached at (206) 553-5443. Alternatively, the DEA website can be found at http://www.usdoj.gov/dea/index.htm.
Industrial hemp producers are also subject to state law. For more information on Washington State laws that govern industrial hemp, I recommend that you contact your state representative or state senator by calling the Washington State Legislative Hotline at 800-562-6000 or through the legislature's website at http://www.leg.wa.gov.
You may be aware of the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2009 (H.R.1866), which would amend the Controlled Substances Act to permit the production of industrial hemp, subject to state laws. H.R. 1866 was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX) on April 2, 2009. The measure has been referred to the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security, where it is awaiting further action. No similar legislation exists in the Senate.
While I do not support the legalization of marijuana, I agree that hemp has legitimate uses. Please be assured that I will keep your views in mind if this or any other legislation regarding industrial hemp should come before the Senate.
Thank you again for contacting me to share your thoughts on this matter. You may also be interested in signing up for periodic updates for Washington State residents. If you are interested in subscribing to this update, please visit my website at http://cantwell.senate.gov. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future if I can be of further assistance.
United States Senator
For future correspondence with my office, please visit my website at http://cantwell.senate.gov/contact/index.html