Limiting DEA’s Reach: House Votes on Bills Allowing States to Grow Hemp W/O Interference

hemp seeds

hemp seedsAfter Kentucky’s recent dance with the DEA over confiscated hemp seeds, it is clear that an amendment is needed to keep the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) from interfering in industrial hemp cultivation. Recently, the U.S. House voted on two amendments that would prohibit the DEA from over-stepping their boundaries when it comes to cultivation – a right states were already granted in the recent Farm Bill changes.

States have already been granted hemp cultivation rights, and shouldn’t have to worry about the DEA militants taking their seed from them, to be held for unknown periods, and interfering with planting seasons and the important timing for starting hemp seedlings.

Twelve states—California, Colorado, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, and West Virginia—currently have laws to provide for hemp production as described by the Farm Bill stipulations. As long as the hemp grown has low levels of THC – the chemical compound of cannabis that is responsible for the ‘high’ – the DEA has no reason to interfere.

One amendment would prohibit the Department of Justice, including its DEA arm, from importing hemp seeds and conducting research on the crop. The amendment is to the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, which controls the DEA’s budget, and was offered by Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.).

Amendment number two (HR 4660), presented by Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.) keeps the DEA from spending federal funds to prevent states from growing hemp, implementing its own laws to govern its cultivation, distribution, possession, and use.

These amendments became necessary after the state of Kentucky had to sue the DEA for release of the seeds they confiscated from Italy that were en route for a huge cultivation program planned for this season. This action incensed Democratic and Republican lawmakers involved in the new industrial hemp laws, drawing condemnation from Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer (R), Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), his Democratic challenger and Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.).

It should be no surprise, however, because DEA chief Michele Leonhart is a known propagandist against hemp cultivation. Under her watch, the DEA has obstructed attempts to remove marijuana from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act — a classification reserved for the most dangerous drugs — and at a 2012 House committee hearing, she refused to answer a congressman’s simple question about whether heroin and crack cocaine pose more harm to the consumer than marijuana. Hemp, more importantly, couldn’t make someone high if they smoked it every day for ten years because the THC levels are so low.

You can sign a petition to have Leonhart fired, here.