Veto of SB 676 is a Huge Setback for California Farmers, Businesses and the Economy
|Hemp has been grown everywhere for thousands of years. It is only in the last 75 years that is cultivation has been irrationally outlawed in the United States.|
Vote Hemp, the nation’s leading grassroots hemp advocacy organization, along with industry trade group the Hemp Industries Association (HIA)—both working to revitalize industrial hemp production in the U.S.—expressed “extreme disappointment” on Monday that California Governor Jerry Brown has vetoed SB 676, the California Industrial Hemp Farming Act.
After moving smoothly through the California Legislature with bipartisan support, the legislation was vetoed by Gov. Brown. The first hemp bill to land on Brown’s desk, SB 676 is the fourth bill since 2002 in support of hemp farming to pass the California Legislature, but all four met gubernatorial vetoes.
The bill would have established guidelines for farming the oilseed and fiber varieties of hemp, which are used in a myriad of everyday consumer products including food, body care, clothing, paper, auto parts, composites and building materials.
|Your Brain On Bliss|
|Gov. Jerry Brown: “Federal law clearly establishes that all cannabis plants, including industrial hemp, are marijuana, which is a federally controlled substance”|
“Federal law clearly establishes that all cannabis plants, including industrial hemp, are marijuana, which is a federally regulated controlled substance,” Gov. Brown said on Sunday. “Failure to obtain a permit from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration prior to growing such plants will subject a California farmer to federal prosecution.”
Despite his veto of the bill, the governor went on to express support for legalizing hemp farming at the federal level.
“Although I am not signing this measure, I do support a change in federal law,” Gov. Brown said. “Products made from hemp—clothes, food, and bath products—are legally sold in California every day. It is absurd that hemp is being imported into the state, but our farmers cannot grow it.”
Introduced by Senator Mark Leno earlier this year, SB 676 would have created an eight-year pilot program allowing industrial hemp farming in four California counties: Kern, Kings, Imperial and San Joaquin. The legislation would have allowed California farmers to grow industrial hemp for the legal sale of seed, oil and fiber to manufacturers.
“Vote Hemp and The Hemp Industries Association are extremely disappointed by Gov. Brown’s veto,” said Eric Steenstra, president of Vote Hemp and executive director of the HIA. “This is a big setback for not only the hemp industry—but for all farmers, businesses, consumers and the California economy as a whole.
|Eric Steenstra, Vote Hemp: “This is a big setback for not only the hemp industry—but for all farmers, businesses, consumers and the California economy as a whole”|
“Hemp is a versatile cash and rotation crop with steadily rising sales as a natural, renewable food and body care ingredient,” Steenstra said. “It’s a shame that Gov. Brown agreed that the ban on hemp farming was absurd and yet chose to block a broadly supported effort to add California to the growing list of states that are demanding the return of U.S. hemp farming. There truly was overwhelming bipartisan support for this bill.”
Strong support for the bill had come from Kings and Kern County sheriffs and the Kings County Board of Supervisors, as well as from the California State Grange, local union affiliate UCFW-5, the Imperial County Farm Bureau, the California Certified Organic Growers and other leading farm organizations.
The bill also had broad-based support from businesses and consumers.
“After four vetoes in 10 years in California, it is clear we lack a Governor willing to lead on this important ecological, agricultural and economic issue,” said Patrick Goggin, Vote Hemp director and co-counsel.
|Patrick Goggin, Vote Hemp: “After four vetoes in 10 years in California, it is clear we lack a Governor willing to lead on this important ecological, agricultural and economic issue”|
More than 30 industrialized nations grow industrial hemp and export it to the United States. Hemp is the only crop that is illegal to grow at the federal level, yet is legal for Americans to import.
Among the numerous California-based companies which have supported the bill are Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, makers of North America’s top-selling natural soap, and Nutiva, a rising star among innovative health companies. Both of these businesses are currently forced to important hemp from other countries, despite their wish to support American farmers.
California businesses spend millions of dollars each year importing hemp, primarily from Canada, China and Europe. Demand for hemp products has grown rapidly, and it is estimated that the U.S. hemp market is now approaching $420 million in annual sales.
From natural soaps to healthy foods, there is a large variety of “Made in California” hemp products whose manufacturers and buyers would greatly benefit from an in-state source of hemp seed, fiber and oil.
The environmental and agricultural benefits of hemp are not limited to the versatility of uses. Industrial hemp is an excellent rotation crop because its dense growth smothers weeds without herbicides and helps to break the disease cycle. Hemp requires less water and agricultural inputs than other crops, has deep taproots that leave the soil in excellent condition for the next crop, and is proven to increase yields.
These benefits save farmers money and reduce the amount of pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilizers that run into our waterways. Unfortunately, due to the DEA and federal marijuana laws, these benefits are only enjoyed by farmers outside the United States.
Vote Hemp is a national, single-issue, nonprofit organization dedicated to the acceptance of a free market for low-THC industrial hemp. It aims to change the current law to allow U.S. farmers to once again grow this agricultural crop.
You can sign a White House petition to legalize hemp farming at the federal level by visiting We The People, the official White House petition site, by clicking here.