Before the 1940s, hemp was a popular crop in the U.S. It was grown from the east coast to the west coast and used to make a wide range of products from foods and home goods to building materials and industrial supplies. It was seen as an incredibly valuable resource until regulations against its sister variety marijuana began to encroach on farmers’ right to grow it freely. When the Controlled Substance Act was passed in 1970, hemp was wrongfully labelled a Schedule I Substance along with marijuana which made it illegal to grow in the United States. Though there are now states in which the growth of hemp is legal, the federal government legally considers hemp a Schedule I drug and widely restricts farmers.

A Schedule I Substance is a drug that is concerned the most dangerous by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and, therefore, can incur the harshest federal penalties. In most cases, this ranking is reserved for drugs that have no medical value and have the greatest potential to be abused such as ecstasy, LSD and heroin. Marijuana has been given this ranking, despite demonstrated medicinal value, largely because of public opinion and politics instead of science. Unfortunately, lawmakers did not distinguish a difference between hemp and marijuana. The cannabis plant itself, including both the non-psychoactive variety (hemp) and psychoactive variety (marijuana), were both given this classification.

If Congress passes the Hemp Farming Act of 2015, this will change. Hemp will no longer be considered a Schedule 1 Substance and farmers in the U.S. will have more freedom to grow industrial hemp. These are the top 4 reasons why we hope Congress will pass this act:

  1. Hemp cannot be used as a recreational drug. Even though marijuana and hemp are both varieties of cannabis, hemp has very low amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) the psychoactive component in marijuana. According to the scientific community, most hemp varieties have less than 1 percent of THC and by law industrial hemp must have less than .3 percent. This is why you cannot get “high” from eating hemp or hemp based foods.
  2. Hemp can be used to make a wide range of environmentally friendly products. It is already used to make natural beauty products, health foods, clothing, shoes and an extensive range of industrial products. Mercedes, Ford and BMW all use hemp-based materials in their cars now, including a fiberglass substitute, because they are recyclable, lighter weight, and perform better. It has even been used to create a natural, non-toxic insulation. New and innovative uses for hemp continue to be found.
  3. Hemp has a more nutritional profile than soybeans. Hemp can be used to make a milk substitute and other health foods because it is an excellent source of protein and has a good balance of omega-3 and omega-6.
  4. Hemp could become a major commodity crop in the U.S. Due to the restrictions on hemp in the U.S., most farmers here do not get to benefit from the popularity of this incredible resource. Most hemp-based products are made from hemp grown in China, Canada and elsewhere. If the Hemp Farming Act is passed, industrial hemp could easily rank alongside corn and soy as a commodity crop in the U.S. since it is hardy plant that requires much less water than cotton, and can thrive in many regions.

If you love hemp-based products and want to support farmers in the U.S. who want to grow this valuable crop, please consider signing our petition on Change.org.