January 1st not only brought a new year but also marked a different kind of day for shops in Colorado. It’s super-official now: Recreational marijuana has gone retail. Now folks in Colorado can get that extra pick-me-up along with their coffee. But that’s not the important detail here. The footnote buried in all of this excitement about legal weed is the boost that it is (hopefully) going to give towards legalizing hemp on the federal level. Along with recreational marijuana shops, industrial hemp farming is now an official go in Colorado.
If you recall, Sen. Paul has been working hard for hemp legalization, especially for his own state of Kentucky. While hemp farming has been cleared on the state level, there’s one major obstacle: It’s still illegal under federal laws. States like Colorado and Kentucky can give their blessing but farmers still run the risk of losing everything.
To date, thirty-one states have introduced pro-hemp legislation and nineteen have passed such legislation. … However, despite state authorization to grow hemp, farmers in those states still risk raids by federal agents, prison time, and property and civil asset forfeiture if they plant the crop… (Vote Hemp/HuffPost)
Paul, along with Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, has tried to provoke clarity on the issue, but there’s still no response from the U.S. Department of Justice or the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
As Commission member Jimmy Higdon pointed out in Kentucky’s The Independent, “it makes little sense the federal government has indicated it will not prosecute those who grow marijuana in states which have legalized it but won’t make the same exception for hemp.”
Paul and Comer, however, received positive responses from “chief law enforcement officers at the state and federal levels”, according to WPSD Local 6:
Agriculture Commissioner James Comer met with state Attorney General Jack Conway on Dec. 17, and the latter offered to expedite a response from the U.S. Department of Justice that would clarify the law on industrial hemp production. …[While] U.S. Sen. Rand Paul recently placed a call to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to raise the issue of industrial hemp production. The call was portrayed as “positive,” and Holder was described as “receptive” to the senator’s call.
There’s progress, but legal hemp farming in 2014 at all levels still seems far off. Remember now, hemp may be a cousin to marijuana, but it has none of the ‘fun’ effects of that ‘legal’ weed. Smoking hemp would be about as effective as trying to smoke your shampoo or clothes. I can’t help but laugh at the thought that hemp farming has a more illegal vibe than growing marijuana.
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