Vermont Hemp Farming Bill Becomes Law

Controversy Resolved by Opinion of Attorney General's Office

Jul 01, 2008, 01:00 ET from Vote Hemp

    MONTPELIER, Vt., July 1 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Vote Hemp, a
 grassroots advocacy organization working to give farmers the right to grow
 non-drug industrial hemp, is extremely pleased that the Vermont Secretary
 of State's office accepted Formal Opinion #2008-1 from the Office of the
 Attorney General and gave H.267, the Hemp for Vermont bill, the designation
 of Act No. 212 last Friday. There had been a constitutional controversy as
 Governor Jim Douglas forwarded H.267 to the Secretary of State intending it
 to become law without his signature. The bill had overwhelmingly passed
 both the House (127 to 9) and the Senate (25 to 1). The new law sets up a
 state-regulated program for farmers to grow non-drug industrial hemp which
 is used in a wide variety of products, including nutritious foods,
 cosmetics, body care, clothing, tree-free paper, auto parts, building
 materials and much more. Learn more about industrial hemp at:
     Smart and effective grassroots organizing by Vote Hemp and the
 Vermont-based advocacy group Rural Vermont ( mobilized
 farmers and local businesses, many of which pledged to buy their hemp raw
 materials in-state if they have the opportunity. Rural Vermont's Director
 Amy Shollenberger says that "the Hemp for Vermont bill is another step
 toward legalizing this important crop for farmers. The United States is the
 only industrialized nation in the world that doesn't allow this crop to be
 grown. Looking at the Canadian experience, hemp provides a good return for
 the farmer. It's a high-yield crop and a great crop to mix in with corn."
     Vermont grows an average of 90,000 acres of corn per year, a small
 amount compared to Midwest states; however, the need for a good rotation
 crop exists nationwide. From candle makers to dairymen to retailers,
 Vermont voters strongly support hemp farming. Admittedly a niche market
 now, hemp is becoming more common in stores and products across the country
 every day. Over the past ten years, farmers in Canada have grown an average
 of 16,500 acres of hemp per year, primarily for use in food products. In
 Vermont, the interest in hemp includes for use in food products, as well as
 in quality and affordable animal bedding for the state's estimated 140,000
     "Vermont's federal delegation can now take this law to the U.S.
 Congress and call for a fix to this problem of farmers missing out on a
 very useful and profitable crop," comments Eric Steenstra, President of
 Vote Hemp. "North Dakota farmers who want to grow hemp per state law are
 currently appealing their lawsuit in the federal courts. The real question
 is whether these hemp-friendly state congressional delegations feel
 compelled to act," adds Steenstra.
     Rural Vermont's Shollenberger states that "the Vermont law is
 significant for two reasons. First, no other state until now has followed
 North Dakota's lead by creating real-world regulations for farmers to grow
 industrial hemp. Second, Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont is Chairman of
 the Committee on the Judiciary, as well as a member of the Committee on
 Agriculture -- both relevant committees that could consider legislation. We
 also have a friend at the USDA in new Secretary Ed Schaffer who signed
 North Dakota's hemp bill as Governor. I plan to visit Washington, DC and
 try to figure out what Congress and the Administration intend to do."

SOURCE Vote Hemp