ASSEMBLY APPROVES LENO-DEVORE BILL
TO PERMIT FARMING OF INDUSTRIAL HEMP
From the Office of Assemblyman Mark Leno
January 27, 2006
U.S. consumers spend $270 million each year on hemp products,
increasing by $26 million annually
SACRAMENTO Assembly Bill 1147 authored by Assemblyman
Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) and Assemblyman Chuck DeVore (R-Irvine)
would permit California farmers to grow industrial hemp for the
sale of seed, oil and fiber to manufacturers. Sponsored by Vote
Hemp, the bill was passed by the Assembly today in a bipartisan
vote of 44 to 32.
California farmers are missing out on a multimillion dollar
market that already exists in California, said Assemblyman
Mark Leno. Hundreds of hemp products are made right here
in California, but manufactures are forced to import hemp seed,
oil and fiber from other countries. This measure will put California
at the top of a $270 million industry thats growing by $26
million each year.
AB 1147 would permit California farmers to grow industrial hemp,
a variety of cannabis that grows up to 16 feet tall, resembles
bamboo, and has no psychoactive properties. By legally sanctioning
hemp cultivation within state lines, this bill provides California
hemp farmers with the security that state law can provide. During
the floor debate Assemblyman Chuck DeVore stressed the bills
minimal impact on law enforcement.
Any cannabis plant, whether marijuana or hemp, not growing
as an agricultural field crop or in a research setting is still
contraband under the terms of AB 1147. It has been crafted to
relieve law enforcement of the burden of having to discern hemp
from marijuana in clandestine groves or in common drug busts,
said Mr. DeVore.
Hemp is one of the strongest natural fibers known and is grown
and processed throughout the world for paper, fuel, clothing,
building materials, canvas, rope, beauty care products, food,
automobile parts and many other commercial uses. The seed has
many nutritional benefits because it contains essential amino
acids, including omega-3 commonly found in fish, and is an alternative
source of protein. Hemp also has strong environmental benefits.
Its a source for paper that could enable us to save our
trees for higher end uses such as lumber. Hemp can be used as
a raw material for ethanol fuel with no net addition to greenhouse
gases. It requires little or no agricultural chemicals, smothers
weeds, and improves soil conditions making it an excellent rotational
crop of particular interest to organic farmers and other weeding
intensive crops such as strawberries.
We are one step closer to cultivating hemp in the United
States, where it can be processed locally and benefit local farmers,
said David Bronner of Dr. Bronners Magic Soaps. The Escondido
based company is the number one producer of natural soaps in the
world with sales near $20 million annually. Mr. Bronner says his
company has spent $800,000 in the last five years importing hemp
oil from Canada. Once this bill is enacted, it will create
a more efficient market leading to better prices for the consumer,
and provide an opportunity to expand the market for the nutritious
hemp seed, he said.
For years, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency has scheduled live
cannabis plants as a controlled substance despite the fact that
hemp has no psychoactive effects. Hemp has less than three tenths
of one percent THC while marijuana contains five to twenty-five
percent THC. In 2004, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that
the DEA did not have the authority to regulate industrial hemp
under the 1970 Controlled Substances Act. The DEA decided not
to appeal that decision and the Courts ruling now stands
as U.S. law on the issue.