Miller: End hemp ban to help farms

Com­mis­sioner calls on Congress to re­move plant from con­trolled sub­stance list

The Dallas Morning News - - State/North Texas - By LAU­REN MCGAUGHY Austin Bureau lm­c­[email protected]­las­news.com Twit­ter: @lm­c­gaughy

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.

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