Oregon Lawmakers Cheer for Hemp - Hemp, Hemp, Hooray!
Six out of seven Oregon congressional delegates have become cheerleaders for cannabis sativa - not the high-inducing kind, but the industrial product-inducing kind.
With the lone exception of Republican Congressman Greg Walden, Oregon's federal lawmakers goaded the state agriculture department and Oregon State University to have a pilot hemp project running in time for next year's growing season.
Currently, the industrial plant is treated exactly like its marijuana-laden cousin under federal law - banned as a schedule 1 drug.
But under a new farm bill, states and universities are authorized to grow and research industrial hemp to determine whether commercial production would benefit US farms and businesses.
Oregon Senator Ron Wyden, who led the hemp lobbying effort, said that without enthusiastic support from the state department of agriculture and OSU, Oregon farmers will lose out on the chance to make Oregon a leader in the hemp industry.
Bruce Pokarney of the agriculture department said if there's a problem with the experimental program, it's not in his agency. As he put it - I don't think there's any indication that we're not moving forward."
So far, Oregon has issued 13 licenses for hemp to farmers under new rules, but not all of them planted crops this season. Hemp licensing fees run $15,000, for testing to prove that their crops contain only minuscule amounts of THC - the high-inducing chemical.
Washington farmers are unable to plant hemp crops because state lawmakers failed to pass bills making it legal in the state.