AB 1147, The California Industrial Hemp Farming Act, passed in the Senate Wednesday by a vote of 26-13. The bill now heads to the Assembly for a final concurrence vote and will then be sent to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s desk for his signature.
Since passing out of the Assembly in January of this year, AB 1147 has gained momentum as legislators learned that California businesses spend millions of dollars each year importing hemp from Canada, China and Europe. Demand for hemp products such as clothing, food, body care, paper and even auto parts has been growing rapidly in recent years with the U.S. hemp market now exceeding $270 million in estimated annual retail sales. The new law would give farmers the ability to legally supply U.S. manufacturers with hemp seed, oil and fiber and would not weaken anti-drug laws.
“We thank legislators from both parties that listened to the facts about industrial hemp and made a historic decision to bring back the crop,” says Vote Hemp President Eric Steenstra. “Passage in the California Legislature is a major accomplishment for the authors and sponsors of the bill as well as thousands of ecology conscious people, farmers, and businesses that wrote California legislators,” says Steenstra.
The California Industrial Hemp Farming Act was introduced in February of 2005 by Democratic Assemblyman Mark Leno. This year, the bill was amended, and Republican Assemblyman Chuck Devore joined as a co-author. In the bipartisan spirit of the legislation the bill was managed on the floor of the Senate by Republican Tom McClintock and received support from Senator Able Maldonado, a farmer and Republican member of the Agriculture Committee. Another influential Republican Senator who supported the bill was Sam Aanestad who is Vice Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
AB 1147 has been carefully crafted to comply with federal law and minimize impact to law enforcement. It includes tough regulations without placing an undue burden on farmers. The bill only permits cultivation of ultra-low THC industrial hemp when grown as an agricultural field crop or in a research setting. Backyard or horticultural cultivation is prohibited. Any clandestine grove of Cannabis will be considered a controlled substance regardless of its THC content.
California’s AB 1147 has already passed a series of committee votes and a floor vote in the Assembly. The final passage in the Assembly is expected by the end of August. Vote Hemp believes the new law would withstand federal scrutiny in the form of legal challenges and ultimately will result in commercial hemp farming in California. No industrial hemp is grown in the United States today even though seven states have passed hemp farming and research bills in recent years. More details on industrial hemp legislation can be found at http://VoteHemp.com .
Final passage of AB 1147 could revitalize commercial industrial hemp farming, which occurred in California until shortly after World War II. “It appears the hemp seed and oil we currently import soon will be grown and produced right here in California,” says David Bronner, Chair of the HIA’s Food and Oil Committee and President of Alpsnack/Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps. “The Hemp Industries Association’s member companies are urging Governor Schwarzenegger to promote sustainable growth for the California economy by signing the industrial hemp bill. Increasing double digit sales growth over the last few years in the hemp food and body care sector indicates strong consumer demand for hemp products that will sustain high prices for farmers for years to come,” said Bronner.
More information about hemp legislation and the crop’s many uses can be found at www.VoteHemp.com. BETA SP and DVD Video News Release featuring footage of hemp farming in other countries is available upon request by contacting
Adam Eidinger at 202-744-2671.