Vote Hemp was founded in 2000 and has been at the forefront working to change state and federal laws to bring back commercial hemp farming. Here we summarize the history of federal hemp legislation.
In 2005 for the first time since the federal government outlawed hemp farming in the United States, a federal bill was introduced that would remove restrictions on the cultivation of non-psychoactive industrial hemp. Vote Hemp organized a Capitol Hill lunch on June 23, 2005 marking the introduction of H.R. 3037, the Industrial Hemp Act of 2005, Congressional staffers were treated to a delicious gourmet hemp lunch while listening to various prominent speakers tout the myriad benefits of encouraging and supporting a domestic hemp industry.
The bill was written with the help of Vote Hemp by chief sponsor Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), and it garnered 11 additional cosponsors. The bill defined industrial hemp, excluded it from the definition of “marihuana” in the Controlled Substances Act, and assigned authority over it to the states, allowing laws in those states regulating the growing and processing of industrial hemp to take effect.
On February 13, 2007 Rep. Ron Paul introduced H.R. 1009, the “Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2007,” with nine original cosponsors. The bill was assigned to comittee, but never received a hearing or a floor vote. At the end of the 110th Congress the bill had 13 cosponsors.
On April 2, 2009 Rep. Ron Paul introduced H.R. 1866, the “Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2009,” with ten original cosponsors. The bill was assigned to comittee, but never received a hearing or a floor vote. At the end of the 111th Congress the bill had 25 cosponsors.
On May 12, 2011 Rep. Ron Paul introduced H.R. 1831, the “Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2011,” with twenty-two original cosponsors. The bill was assigned to comittee, but never received a hearing or a floor vote. At the end of the 112th Congress Rep. Ron Paul and Rep. Barney Frank retired and the bill had 37 cosponsors. A Senate companion bill was introduced on August 2, 2012 by Sen. Ron Wyden.
On June 7, 2012 Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced S.AMDT.2220, an industrial hemp amendment to the Farm Bill. This amendment failed to be attached to the 2012 Farm Bill, but did help to find original cosponsors for the introduction of S. 3501, the “Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2012.” The Farm Bill was passed by the Senate, but failed to be passed by the House.
On August 2, 2012 Sen. Ron Wyden introduced S. 3501, the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2012. This was the first hemp bill to be introduced on the U.S. Senate since the 1950’s.
On April 15, 2013 Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) introduced H.R. 525, The Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2013.
On May 20, 2013 Sen. Ron Wyden introduced S.AMDT.952, an industrial hemp to the 2013 Farm Bill. This amendment was not allowed a floor vote and failed to be attached to the Farm Bill.
On June 20, 2013, Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO), introduced H.AMDT.203 to the Farm Bill. The amendment allows institutions of higher education to grow or cultivate industrial hemp for the purpose of agricultural or academic research. Amendment applies only to states that already permit industrial hemp growth and cultivation under state law. The amendment passed on a vote of 225-200 and was the first federal hemp legislation to be passed since the 1950’s.
On February 7, 2014, President Obama signed the Farm Bill of 2013 into law. Sec. 7606 0f the Farm Bill, Legitimacy of Industrial Hemp Research, defines industrial hemp as distinct and authorizes institutions of higher education or State departments of agriculture in states where hemp is legal to grow hemp for research or agricultural pilot programs. Since hemp has not been grown in the United States since 1957, there is a strong need for research to develop new varieties of hemp that grow well in various states and meet the current market demands.
On January 8, 2015 Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced S. 134, The Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2015. The bill was cosponsored by Majority Leader McConnell, Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Senator Rand Paul (R-KY). The bill is identical to S. 359 which was the bill introduced during the previous (113th) Congress.
On January 26, 2015 Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) introduced H.R. 525, the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2015, in the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill was cosponsored by Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) and is the companion to S. 134.
On July 28, 2017, Rep. James Comer (R-KY) introduced H.R. 3530, the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2017. The bill was introduced with 15 bi-partisan cosponsors including Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA). This new version of the bill has a number of changes as part of a compromise. Vote Hemp was pleased that several provisions we advocated for were included including allowing Native American tribes to grow and also a provision which allows cultivation of hemp for research only up to 0.6% THC (we advocated for increasing the THC for research and commercial cultivation). We were unhappy with other provisions added to teh bill. Read our analysis of H.R. 3530 here.
On April 12, 2018, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced S. 2667, The Hemp Farming Act of 2018 along with Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Senator Rand Paul (R-KY). The bill gained strong bipartisan support and gained 29 cosponsors. Rep. James Comer (R-KY) and Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) introduced H.R. 5485, a House companion bill on the same day. The Hemp Farming Act was included in the 2018 Farm Bill with minor amendments and was signed into law by President Trump on December 20, 2018.
OTHER HEMP and CANNABIDIOL LEGISLATION
On July 28, 2014 Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA) introduced H.R. 5226, the Charlotte’s Web Medical Hemp Act of 2014. This bill was introduced at the request of the Coalition for Access Now and contained a misguided and inaccurate definition of hemp as well as a focus on defining it as a medicine. The bill creates a new substance called “therapeutic hemp” and defines it effectively the same as industrial hemp in all the previous Industrial Hemp Farming Act bills.
“(57) The term ‘therapeutic hemp’ means the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of such plant, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.”
On March 25, 2015 Rep. Scott Perry introduced H.R. 1635, the Charlottes Web Medical Hemp Act of 2015. This version of the bill changed the plant name from “therapeutic hemp” to “cannabidiol rich plant” and actually never mentions the term “hemp” in the entire bill.
On July 14, 2016 Senator Dianne Feinstein introduced S. 3269, the Cannabidiol Research Expansion Act. This misguided bill required the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to initiate scheduling proceedings for cannabidiol (CBD) acknowledging that CBD was not already scheduled as claimed by the DEA. It also expands the authority for conducting medical research on CBD with the goal of exclusively allowing access to CBD as an FDA approved medicine and excluding the use of CBD in dietary supplements and foods.