Two bills were introduced this month in the Hawaii State Senate to legalize the cultivation of Industrial Hemp, effectively nullifying the federal prohibition.

SB2175 was introduced by Democrat Senators Mike Gabbard , Will Espero , Rosalyn Baker , Oakland Chun Oakland, Josh Green, Clarence Nishihara, and Laura Thielsen on January 16, 2014 and would “allow the regulated cultivation of industrial hemp in similar fashion as California”.

This bill uses the California Industrial Hemp Farming Act signed into law on Sept. 27, 2013, a ruling from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals from 2004 narrowly defining where federal Drug Enforcement Agency regulations may be enforced, and an interpretation of the 1970 federal Controlled Substances Act which excludes “nonpsychoactive” hemp from the definition of marijuana.

The bill establishes an uncompensated 11 member industrial hemp advisory group under control of the board of agriculture. The general functions of the group would be to oversee seed production, seed condition, marketing, and seed utilization. Specified members will also represent various stake holders such as the agricultural research institution, state and county law enforcement, hemp industry members, Hawaii sellers of hemp products, University of Hawaii hemp research, and the general public. The bill further defines the rules, restrictions, and reporting/enforcement of the provisions of the act.

The legislation refers to the fact that sales of industrial hemp products in the United States have grown since 1990 to more than $500,000,000 annually in 2012 and refers specifically to the benefit to the California farmers and local job market in general.

SB2645 takes the next step. It was introduced on Jan. 17, 2014 by Democrat Senators Russell Ruderman, Oakland Chun, Will Espero, Josh Green, Les Ihara, Michelle Kidani, Clarence MAile Nishihara, Shimabukuro, and Laura  Thielen.

The act’s stated purpose of the bill is to legalize industrial hemp, and promote research and development of markets for industrial hemp by setting the appropriate policies and procedures.

Industrial hemp is an agricultural product that may be grown, produced, possessed, and commercially traded in the State to produce hemp products pursuant to this chapter.

The legislation goes on to specify licensing rules, and enforcement mechanisms.

Industrial hemp falls under the Controlled Substance Act of 1970. It technically remains legal to grow in the U.S., but farmers must first obtain a permit from the DEA, a nearly impossible feat. When or even if Washington will free the industrial hemp market remains a huge question mark. A recent Department of Justice memo declaring it won’t challenge marijuana legalization in Colorado and Washington perhaps cracked the door open for hemp production, but it remains unclear if the feds will take the same lenient position on the crop.

The proposed Hawaii law simply ignores the federal prohibition and opens the door to hemp cultivation in South Carolina. It would allow the state to develop in intrastate market and poise it to lead the way if Washington opens up the interstate market.

Experts count as many as 25,000 uses for industrial hemp, including food, cosmetics, plastics and biofuel. The U.S. currently imports hemp products, primarily from China and Canada.


If you love in Hawaii: Take action to support this legislation HERE

All other states: Take action to nullify the federal ban on hemp farming here

Brian Gosper

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