Rather than duking it out in the streets, Congressional members sometimes resort to some rather passive-aggressive tactics to sell their colleagues on their respective agendas. This is no different when it comes to the world of marijuana… or even its non-intoxicating cousin.
Last week, as part of the dog and pony show on Capitol Hill paying homage to Hemp History Week, Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon brought a couple of baskets full of industrial hemp products to the floor of the U.S. Senate before giving a speech on the subject.
“It is Hemp History Week again,” he said, “and that is why I’m back on the Senate floor to talk about the only Schedule One controlled substance that you can sew into a t-shirt and wear through TSA.”
It was then that the Wyden’s assistant began holding up a variety of industrial hemp products. “He’s got a few Schedule One snack bars. He’s got some Schedule One hand soap. He’s even wearing a Schedule One necktie. The point is, they’re all perfectly legal products you’ll find on shelves in stores throughout the nation, but because the hemp had to be imported, none of it could be considered fully American-made,” he explained.
Wyden, who is part of the crew pushing the Hemp Farming Act of 2018, went on to express his disdain for the U.S. policy against hemp production. He told lawmakers that the nation was essentially putting the screws to American farmers by continuing to allow other countries supply us with hemp. “There can’t be many policies on the books that are more anti-farmer than that one,” Wyden said. “Hemp growers in places like Canada and China must just be laughing all the way to the bank. They’re cashing in, while our farmers have their hands tied by the current hemp restrictions.”
Earlier this week, the Senate adopted a non-biding resolution that acknowledges the economic potential of allowing the U.S. hemp industry out of its cage. Wyden, Senators Rand Paul, Jeff Merkley and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell praised the action.
“Since Kentucky’s earliest days, industrial hemp has played a foundational role in our agricultural history and economy,” McConnell said in a statement. “With our Hemp Farming Act of 2018, I believe that hemp can also be an important part of our future. Removing hemp from the federal list of controlled substances will give our farm communities the opportunity to explore the potential of this versatile crop. I am proud to join with farmers, processors and manufacturers across Kentucky to celebrate Hemp History Week as we work together on the plant’s growing future.”
During his speech, Wyden said that hemp should not be lumped in with the cannabis plant, saying that “Hemp is not a drug, and treating it like one was wrong from the get-go.” He also explained that the product had a long history in America before it was met with prohibition.
“Before growing hemp was made illegal, hemp was among the predominant American crops for generations. It was grown in the fields of Mount Vernon,” he said. “It was threaded into the ropes and sails of the first ships made for the United States Navy.
“If hemp was easier to rhyme,” he continued, “it might even have its own lyric in ‘America the Beautiful’ right alongside the amber waves of grain.”