Senate Bill 676 passed by the Oregon legislature in 2009 allows for the production of industrial hemp. But in the years since, farmers have been hesitant to begin growing for fear that they’d be prosecuted by the Drug Enforcement Administration for possession of a schedule I controlled substance — since under federal law, hemp is in the same category as marijuana.
On Saturday, Congressman Earl Blumenauer held an industrial hemp forum in Portland. His opening remarks included a request for audience participation: “Repeat after me: Hemp is not marijuana!”
The forum sought input for a state advisory committee that will develop rules and regulations for growers, handlers and transporters of industrial hemp. The plan is to have the rules in place for the 2014 planting season. The renewed interest in industrial hemp follows a memorandum the Department of Justice sent out this summer. The memo suggested that as long as state and local governments that allow hemp do a good job regulating it, the feds would be unlikely to enforce federal drug law.
- Earl Blumenauer: U.S. Congressman representing Oregon’s 3rd District
- Eric Mortenson: Reporter at the Capital Press
- Russ Karow: Head of Oregon State University’s Department of Crop and Soil Science