The letter below is from Sen. Bernard Sanders to a Vote Hemp supporter in reply to a letter asking him to become a sponsor of the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2011.
Sen. Bernard Sanders (I-VT)
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November 10, 2011
Thank you for contacting me about the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2011 and the possibility of cultivating hemp for industrial use. I appreciate to respond to your concerns on this important issue.
Currently the United States is the only developed nation in which the production of hemp is not permitted. The past decade has witnessed a resurgence of interest in allowing commercial cultivation of industrial hemp in the United States. Farmers in areas of the country largely dependent on a single crop, have expressed interest in hemp's potential and a high-value alternative crop, and consumers have been drawn to hemp's versatility and environmental sustainability, suitable for a wide variety of industrial uses. Hemp fiber and hemp seed both have a variety of industrial and commercial applications.
The federal government has been slow to recognize hemp's potential as an industrial crop. The Controlled Substances Act tightly regulates the production of all varieties of Cannabis, and makes no distinction between drug-grade Cannabis and industrial-grade hemp. Industrial hemp grown for fiber and food contains negligible levels of THC, and once processed the product contains levels at or close to zero. Though the Drug Enforcement Agency has the authority to grant a permit for industrial hemp cultivation, it has not done so since 1990, citing concerns that allowing industrial hemp production would increase the likelihood of illicit marijuana production, as well as complicate their enforcement and surveillance duties.
I am in strong support of taking steps to allow American farmers to increase the profitability of their produce, and given the current state of the American economy, I stand in strong support of legislation intended to help the American farm industry thrive in these difficult times. This bill is currently in the House, but I will certainly take your views on this issue should this, or similar legislation come before the Senate for consideration.
Again, thank you for contacting me about this important issue. Feel free to contact me again in the future about this or any other subject of interest to you, or for up-to-date information on what my office is working on please visit http://www.sanders.senate.gov. While there, I invite you to sign up for my e-newsletter, the Bernie Buzz, at http://sanders.senate.gov/buzz/. Please be aware that due to security screening procedures, postal mail to my office experiences delays that will lengthen the time it takes me to get back to you. The fastest way to contact my office is by calling 1-800-339-9834.
United States Senator