After a veto from Governor Jerry Brown in 2011, another hemp legalization bil unanimously passed the California Senate on Tuesday, June 4.
SB 566 was written to acquiesce Governor Brown’s out-of-touch constitutional ignorance. Under the current bill, hemp production would only begin once California receives permission from the federal government.
“We feel confident that California will finally have an industrial hemp law later this year ensuring that California farmers are ready and able to cultivate hemp upon federal approval,” Patrick Goggin, California legal counsel for the industry group Vote Hemp said.
Should SB 566 be construed as some mechanism to make the federal government act? Hardly. But it does indicate the growing support for hemp production, not only in California, but across the United States. According StopTheDrugWar.org, domestic retail sales of hemp food and body care products reached $156 million last year, and the Hemp Industries Association estimates that all hemp products sales, including clothing, auto parts, and building materials, totaled at least $500 million. The continued federal prohibition makes no sense constitutionally or economically.
In a February 2011 Facebook post, Dr. David Bronner, president of the Escondido-based company Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps said, “Dr. Bronner’s currently purchases twenty tons of hemp oil each year from Canada. We look forward to the day that we can meet our supply needs from hemp produced right here in our home state.”
Simply legalizing intrastate production and sale of hemp products would create a boon for companies like Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps.
The federal Controlled Substance Act included hemp as a Schedule I drug in 1970. The feds consider growing it without a DEA issued permit a crime. The feds have only issued one such permit, to Hawaii, back in 1999. It has since expired. This has created a de facto federal ban on growing the plant. And as a result, the United States is the world’s number one importer of hemp, while China and Canada are the top two exporters. Some supporters say that nullifying this federal ban would be a huge win for jobs, for American farmers, and for the economy.
The federal government lacks the constitutional authority to prohibit hemp production. No enumerated power grants that authority. Doubt that? Then ask yourself why it took a constitutional amendment to prohibit alcohol.
While it’s great to see the interest in hemp production and the California legislature addressing the issue, asking the feds permission where none is required is simply ridiculous.
HEMP OVERVIEW AND USE
Industrial hemp is not marijuana, but an industrial agricultural product used for a wide variety of purposes, including the manufacture of cordage of varying tensile strength, durable clothing and nutritional products. During World War II, the United States military relied heavily on hemp products, which resulted in the famous campaign and government-produced film, “Hemp for Victory!”
Even though soil, climate and agricultural capabilities could make the United States a massive producer of industrial hemp, today no hemp is grown for public sale, use and consumption within the United States. China is the world’s greatest producer and the United States is the #1 importer of hemp and hemp products in the world.
Since the enactment of the unconstitutional federal controlled-substances act in 1970, the Drug Enforcement Agency has prevented the production of hemp within the United States. Many hemp supporters feel that the DEA has been used as an “attack dog” of sorts to prevent competition with major industries where American-grown hemp products would create serious market competition: Cotton, Paper/Lumber, Oil, and others.