The letter below is from Sen. Joseph Lieberman to a Vote Hemp supporter in reply to a letter asking him to become a cosponsor of the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2011.
Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-CT)
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July 20, 2012
Thank you for contacting me to express your support for industrial hemp production. I appreciate your concerns and welcome the opportunity to respond.
Since 1941, all cannabis varieties, including hemp, have been considered Schedule I controlled substances - the strictest of federal drug categories under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). While there are legitimate industrial uses for hemp, these are controlled and highly regulated by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
Beginning in the 1990s, there has been a growing interest in allowing commercial cultivation of industrial hemp in the United States. Hemp has long been cultivated for non-drug use in the production of industrial and other goods. Some estimate that the global market for hemp consists of more than 25,000 products. It can be grown as a fiber, seed, or other dual-purpose crop. Hemp fibers are used in a wide range of products, including fabrics and textiles, yarns and raw or processed spun fibers, paper, carpeting, home furnishings, construction and insulation materials, auto parts, and composites.
Several states have conducted economic or market studies and have initiated or passed legislation to expand state-level resources and production. To date, nine states have legalized the cultivation and research of industrial hemp, including Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, Vermont, and West Virginia. However, because federal law still prohibits cultivation, a grower still must get permission from the DEA in order to grow hemp, or face the possibility of federal charges or property confiscation, despite having a state-issued permit.
As you may know, there has been an attempt by Members of Congress to change the status of hemp. Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX) introduced the Industrial Hemp Farming Act (H.R. 1831) in the U.S. House of Representatives. This bill would amend CSA to exclude hemp from the definition of "marihuana." H.R. 1831 would also grant states exclusive authority to regulate the growing and processing of industrial hemp, as well as power over criminal or civil action administrative proceedings. Also, during consideration of the Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act (S. 3240; Farm Bill), Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced an amendment (S.Amdt. 2220) similar to H.R. 1831; however, this amendment was not brought up for consideration prior to Senate passage of the Farm Bill.
The DEA is the primary federal agency in charge of enforcing CSA and is responsible for controlling the distribution, production, and sale of hemp as long as it remains on schedule I. As long as marijuana and all of its offshoots remain illegal, it is DEA's duty to enforce the laws currently in place regarding the wrongful sale, use, and possession of this substance.
While no legislation similar to H.R. 1831 has yet been introduced in the full Senate during this 112th Congress, I look forward to participating in deliberations on this important issue if and when it is introduced. In the meantime, I hope you will continue to stay in touch and to share your views about any other matters of interest to you that are currently pending before Congress.
Thank you again for sharing your views and concerns with me. I hope you will continue to visit http://lieberman.senate.gov for updated news about my work on behalf of Connecticut and the nation. Please contact me if you have any additional questions or comments about our work in Congress.
Joseph I. Lieberman
UNITED STATES SENATOR