Miller: End hemp ban to help farms
Commissioner calls on Congress to remove plant from controlled substance list
Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller is calling on Congress to lift the ban on hemp production.
In a press release Thursday afternoon, Miller urged Congress to pass the 2018 Farm Bill, which negotiators have revealed includes a provision to remove hemp from the federal list of controlled substances. It’s time for American farmers to be allowed to tap into the hemp market, Miller said.
“This is all about taking the shackles off the American farmer,” Miller said in a statement. “It is time to finally end the ban on industrial hemp and free Texas farmers to produce this valuable commodity. In today’s economy, our farmers need maximum flexibility to diversify their production and thrive. When our farmers do well, they can provide for their families, grow our rural communities and ensure we have the food, clothing and medicine we all need.”
Support for lifting the ban on hemp, a fast-growing form of cannabis with low or untraceable amounts of the psychoactive compound found in marijuana, has enjoyed growing support among conservatives in recent years. The Republican Party of Texas included it in this year’s convention platform, which also backed decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana.
Miller, a staunch Republican, clarified in his statement that supporting hemp production did not amount to loosening marijuana laws.
“This is not the backdoor to legalizing marijuana,” Miller said. “Hate to break it to the potheads, but marijuana is still illegal in Texas and under federal law. Ending the ban on hemp won’t change that. This is about giving farmers another opportunity to thrive.”
About 40 states have passed some form of hemp legislation, and 19 states have begun cultivating it, according to Vote Hemp, a national advocacy group.
Hemp products are sold at wellness stores and many grocery chains, such as Austin-based Whole Foods. Hemp can be used to make protein powders and body care items, such as lotions, and its seeds can be used to garnish food. Home builders, clothing companies and automakers have used hemp because it’s lightweight and fibrous.