Lawmakers Consider Legalizing Industrial Hemp Production
Lawmakers are considering passing a law that would allow Mainers to grow industrial hemp for commercial uses, but would such a law matter, since the practice is against federal law?Members of the Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee have a decision to make. Should Maine allow the growing of industrial hemp for commercial use? Farmington Republican Lance Harvell’s bill would eliminate the need for a federal permit to grow industrial hemp in Maine. He says that could help Maine farmers compete globally. “Right now about 36% of the hemp in the world is being grown in China. It’s one thing if we can’t compete with low wage, but when we’re shackling our ability to grow a product that became a casualty in the war on drugs, it’s really quite stunning to me.”There’s a false stigma attached to hemp, mostly because people confuse industrial hemp with smokeable marijuana used for recreational purposes, but there’s a big difference. “I guess to get high on hemp, you’d have to smoke a lot of rope.”Industrial hemp is used to make a number of products, including textiles, thread, construction products, fuel, pulp and paper, furniture, oils, paints, and plastics.Even if Harvell’s bill passes, it still violates federal law. He says the federal government’s refusal to lead on these types of issues is forcing states to move on and leave the feds behind. “My honest opinion on how this is gonna play out, mostly in relation to hemp, but maybe with cannabis with what you’re seeing in Washington and Colorado, the federal government is going to be forced to clamp down on some of this stuff, or maybe it’s time they lead and we get on board as well.”The bill faces a work session in the coming weeks. If it passes committee, it would sent to the House floor.