A measure created to protect the legal status of Oregon’s hemp industry and to help growers expand their cultivation options, for both propagation and creating a market for hemp-derived products, has been cleared by the state legislature and is currently awaiting the signature of Governor Kate Brown.
Oregon’s legislative session for 2016, which ended on March 5, cleared House Bill 4060, which was approved by the Senate soon after. The bill, sponsored by State Representative Carl Wilson (R-Grant’s Pass), will give potential hemp-growers more flexibility and will help solve conflicts regarding unintentional cross-pollination between hemp and cannabis crops.
Though hemp products are legal to sell in the U.S., industrial hemp is still recognized by the federal government as a form of cannabis, which is a Schedule I drug. Last year, after the first grower and handler permits were granted to nine Oregon growers, hemp advocates began seeking additional possibilities for industrial hemp production that could allow Oregon increased leeway despite federal law.
Authorizing new propagation methods, increasing the different varieties of hemp that could be grown, minimizing the amount of space required for growing hemp, and creating hemp-derived CBD products for human consumption are all options lauded by growers and supporters alike.
The approval of HB 4060 has made these options a reality. At a Feb. 23 legislative hearing in Salem, advocates testified that materials made from hemp, such as plastics, could be utilized for building construction. The plant is used worldwide in the creation of tens of thousands of different products including food, cosmetics, plastics, and bio-fuel.
The House of Representatives voted 54-4 to approve the measure, and it was passed by 25-0 in the Senate. Lawmakers are hopeful that as more people are able to grow industrial hemp and more growers are allowed to explore increasing options for reproduction and usage, state legalization of hemp around the country will become a norm, and our government will be persuaded to reconsider current laws. Oregon’s Senator Ron Wyden is a supporter of lifting the government ban on hemp via the Industrial Hemp Farming Act, which would legalize the status of industrial hemp throughout the nation.
By Kiki Genoa