Sen. Rand Paul Joins Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden’s Push For Legal Hemp

Nathan Francis

Sen. Ron Wyden has gained an ally in his fight to legalize industrial hemp for farmers—Republican Rand Paul.

The senator from Kentucky is joining Ron Wyden in sponsoring an amendment to the senate’s omnibus farm bill, the Lexington Herald-Leader reports. If passed, the amendment would allow industrial hemp to be excluded from that plants now considered marijuana.

Farmers would be able to grow these plants under regulation from state permitting programs. Hemp is grown for many safe and legitimate products, noted Ron Wyden, a Democratic senator from Oregon.

U.S. retailers sold an estimated $419 million of hemp products in 2010 and was on pace for $450 million in 2011, Tom Murphy, national outreach coordinator of Vote Hemp and spokesperson for the Hemp Industries Association was quoted in Forbes. Estimates put the global market for hemp at more than 25,000 products, a Congressional Research Service report in January stated.

The movement to allow farmers to grow hemp has gained momentum nationwide. Though 31 states have introduced pro-hemp legislation and 17 have passed laws in favor of its growth, this marks the first time since the 1950s language supporting hemp has been introduced to the floor of the House or Senate, Vote Hemp president Eric Steenstra told the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Vote Hemp is a non-profit interest group that promotes acceptance of industrial hemp. In 2011 the group organized a petition to the White House that reached 5,000 signatures in 25 hours.

Allowing hemp to be grown would help producers and suppliers to grow the economy, Ron Wyden added.

"Industrial hemp is used in many healthy and sustainable consumer products,” Ron Wyden was quoted in the Lexington Herald Leader. “However, the federal prohibition on growing industrial hemp has forced companies to needlessly import raw materials from other countries."