Alaska Senate Committee Passes Bill to Legalize Industrial Hemp

JUNEAU, Alaska (Mar. 30, 3015) – An Alaska state Senate committee approved a bill last week that would authorize the farming, production, and sale of industrial hemp in the state, effectively blocking the federal prohibition on the same.

Senate Bill 8 (SB8) was introduced by State Sen. Johnny Ellis (D-Anchorage) and would open up the industrial hemp market in Alaska if successfully passed. The bill passed without objection through the Senate Resources Committee on March 27. It is now scheduled to be heard next in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

SB8 would allow a licensed individual to “produce industrial hemp, including planting, growing, harvesting, possessing, processing, selling, or buying industrial hemp.” Those who did so would be protected from prosecution through an affirmative defense as long as they are in compliance with state law.

The bill gives Alaska the chance to join several other states – Colorado, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont and North Dakota – that have already passed similar measures.

Farmers in SE Colorado started harvesting the plant in 2013, and farmers in Vermont began harvesting in 2014, effectively thwarting federal restrictions on such agricultural activities in practice. On Feb. 2, the Oregon hemp industry officially opened for business and one week later, the first license went to a small non-profit group who hopes to plant 25 acres this spring. The Tennessee Agricultural department recently put out a call for licensing, signaling that hemp farming will start soon there too. And a law signed by Gov. Dalrymple this month authorizes the same.

MARKETS 

Experts suggest that the U.S. market for hemp is around $600 million per year. They count as many as 25,000 uses for industrial hemp, including food, cosmetics, plastics and bio-fuel. The U.S. is currently the world’s #1 importer of hemp fiber for various products, with China and Canada acting as the top two exporters in the world.

During World War II, the United States military relied heavily on hemp products, which resulted in the famous campaign and government-produced film, “Hemp for Victory!”.

But, since the enactment of the disastrous federal controlled-substances act in 1970, the Drug Enforcement Agency has prevented the production of hemp within the United States. Many hemp supporters feel that the DEA has been used as an “attack dog” of sorts to prevent competition with major industries where American-grown hemp products would create serious market competition: Cotton, Paper/Lumber, Oil, and others.

Earlier in 2014, President Barack Obama signed a new farm bill into law, which included a provision allowing a handful of states to begin limited research programs growing hemp. The new “hemp amendment”

"…allows State Agriculture Departments, colleges and universities to grow hemp, defined as the non-drug oilseed and fiber varieties of Cannabis, for academic or agricultural research purposes, but it applies only to states where industrial hemp farming is already legal under state law."

SB8 goes a step further than what is currently ‘allowed’ by the feds by authorizing industrial development of the hemp plant. This is an essential first step forward. Similar to the way marijuana prohibition has been blocked because of massive state action, states defying the federal industrial hemp ban can unleash a tidal wave of resistance that forces the feds to get their priorities in order.

ACTION ITEMS

For Alaska: Take steps to support SB8 at THIS LINK.

For other states: Take steps to fight industrial hemp prohibition with our Hemp Freedom Act. You can find more information at the following link: http://www.peaceonourstreets.com/hemp