The letter below is from Sen. Patrick Leahy to a Vote Hemp supporter in reply to a letter asking him to support Senate Amendment 952, Sen. Ron Wyden's industrial hemp amendment to the Farm Bill.
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT)
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May 29, 2013
Thank you for contacting me about federal hemp policy and S.Amdt. 952, an amendment to the 2013 Farm Bill that reflects the language of S. 359, a bill introduced to amend the Controlled Substances Act to exclude industrial hemp from the definition of marijuana. I appreciate hearing from you on this issue.
A growing number of states, including Vermont, have enacted legislation providing for industrial hemp production. Hemp is designated as a controlled substance under federal law. In order to legally cultivate and process hemp, a federal permit issued by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is required. To learn more about the status of these permits I wrote a letter on January 23 to Michele Leonhart, the Administrator of the DEA, inquiring about hemp production permits. I asked how many permit requests the DEA has received annually since 2000, how many were issued, and what factors are considered in the Agency's decision whether to approve permit applications.
I have learned that the DEA does not distinguish between marijuana and hemp, and requires considerable security systems to be installed before they will issue a hemp cultivation permit. As a result, there have been only three permits issued by the DEA for industrial hemp cultivation, each to a major research university for tightly controlled research.
Senator Ron Wyden introduced S. 359 on February 14, 2013 and it has been referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, which I chair. However, with the Committee considering important legislation on immigration, there have been no immediate plans to take up S. 359. More recently, Senator Wyden introduced S.Amdt. 952 as an amendment to the 2013 Farm Bill. Please know that I support Senator Wyden's amendment to exclude industrial hemp from the Controlled Substances Act and to thereby allow states to choose whether to permit its cultivation.
Thank you again for contacting me. Please keep in touch.
United States Senator