I sometimes wonder what happens behind the scenes. Who, or what entity, makes the phone calls which result in good actions getting stopped.

Industrial hemp, for example.

After Colorado, Oregon and Vermont all passed bills to legalize full-scale farming and production of the plant (Colorado is the only one actively farming so far – Oregon should by next year), a number of other states have considered legislation to do the same.

Without federal “permission,” that is.

In Washington State, the house voted to approve hemp by a vote of 97-0 on 02-17
In West Virginia, the house voted to approve hemp by a vote of 88-8 on 02-24
In Nebraska, the unicameral legislature passed its own bill by a vote of 32-1

But then, something happened.

On 03-07, the Washington State senate changed HB1888 to virtually strip the entire bill of its intent – replacing it with legislation which authorizes universities (and a few other limited institutions of the state) to grow hemp for research purposes as authorized by the federal farm bill signed by President Obama in February of this year. The house can still reject the senate amendment and force the issue. Time will tell.

On 03-08, the West Virginia state senate did the same with HB3011. The House had an opportunity to reject that – but instead accepted it and sent the bill to the governor’s desk.

On 03-11, Nebraska Sen. Wallman introduced an amendment to strip the entirety of his own bill – replacing it with one, you guessed it, authorizing hemp research farming at educational institutions only.

Three states in four days.

The logical side of me says it could be a coincidence.

The intelligent side of me says that there are powerful forces behind the scenes who don’t want hemp farming in the United States.

Who could that be?

People who make money in competing industries, like lumber, cotton, oil, and others?

People who make money from the fact that China is the #1 exporter of hemp in the world and the US is the #1 importer?

People who simply don’t like their rules defied?

Maybe all of them.

Our hope still points to Colorado, where hemp farming began in 2013 and continues today. Rules for farming in Oregon won’t happen in time for this planting season, but are likely by 2015. Good bills are still in play in South Carolina and Tennessee. Unless, of course, something happens behind the scenes.

Lead on, Colorado!

Michael Boldin

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