Lawmakers in a New Hampshire House committee unanimously approved a bill to remove a ban on the industrial cultivation of hemp. The bill, which was sponsored by Representatives Elizabeth Edwards (D-Hillsborough), Laura Jones (R-Strafford), Robert Cushing (D-Rockingham), and Michael Sylvia (R-Belknap), would regulate hemp like any other farmable crop. The bill will now be debated and voted on in the full House.
In particular, the bill notes that “industrial hemp shall not be designated as a controlled substance.” Since the 1970 passage of the federal Controlled Substances Act, hemp production has been prevented by the Drug Enforcement Agency because of its relation to cannabis.
If passed, House Bill 494 would bring New Hampshire into the company of Colorado, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, and neighboring Vermont, all of which have passed similar laws. Although many producers have hesitated to begin cultivation until federal legislation has passed, farmers in Colorado, Oregon and Vermont have begun harvesting over the past couple of years.
The U.S. hemp market is somewhere around $500 million per year, with the majority of imports coming from China and Canada, the world’s largest hemp exporters. According to the Congressional Resource Service, the U.S. remains the only developed country that does not cultivate hemp on an industrial scale.
Photo Credit: storebukkebruse