Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Assembly Committee OKs Hemp Bill

The Sacramento Union

SACRAMENTO (AP) —Legislation that would allow California farmers to grow industrial hemp, a distant cousin of marijuana that can be used in making myriad products, has been approved by a state Assembly committee.

The measure by Assemblyman Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, cleared the Public Safety Committee on Tuesday night, 4-2, and was sent to the Appropriations Committee, the last stop before the full Assembly.

Hemp is imported to the United States from Canada and other countries and can be used to make clothing, cosmetics, food, paper, rope, jewelry, luggage, sports equipment, toys and a variety of other products.

But hemp can’t be legally grown in the United States without a federal Drug Enforcement Administration permit that often is difficult to obtain. Hemp contains a trace of tetrahydrocannabinols, or THC, the drug in marijuana.

Leno’s bill would allow California farmers to grow hemp to sell to California manufacturers of hemp products, a limit the bill’s supporters hope will avoid legal challenges to the legislation under the U.S. Constitution’s interstate commerce clause.

Leno said the bill provides a “great opportunity to assist family farmers.”

“California can import the entire plant to manufacture thousands of products, so manufacturers are benefiting from current law, the environment benefits, retailers benefit, consumers benefit,” he said. “The only one losing out is the California farmer.”


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