Earlier this week the United States Senate recognized the economic potential of the industrial hemp plant by officially recognizing June 4th-10thas “Hemp History Week.” Growing acceptance of the industrial hemp plant as an agricultural resource has been growing over the past few years, especially within the State legislatures. As of today, 37 different States have passed some formed of legislation allowing the cultivation of industrial hemp and now it seems that the tide has shifted with lawmakers on the federal level as well.
Industrial hemp can be manufactured into a number of finished goods and can be utilized in numerous ways to improve our environment. Textiles, finished food products, cosmetics, bio-fuel, environmentally friendly construction materials, and medicine can all be manufactured or extracted from the hemp plant. The revival of the industry will not only be profitable for farmers but, also beneficial for our environment. Industrial hemp sequesters large amounts of CO2 from the atmosphere, can be used to manufacture biodegradable plastics and products, can be used in bioremediation of polluted soil, and can help reduce deforestation.
As one of the largest consumers of hemp-based products in the world, the United States has yet to federally legalize the cultivation and manufacturing of hemp products on its own soil. The introduction of the Hemp Farming Act of 2018 by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell might finally change the legal status of industrial hemp allowing the revival of an industry that has been held illegal in the country for almost 100 years. The new bill has already gained bipartisan support from many members of congress.
Jeff Merkley (D-OR), noted that “the value of hemp imported into the United States for use in the production of other retail products is estimated at approximately $76,000,000 annually.”