DOJ to Take Hands-Off Approach to Hemp Cultivation

A Vermont farming group is cheering a Department of Justice memorandum that it says could clear the way for the worry-free cultivation of hemp by the 2014 growing season.

A DOJ directive issued late last month announced the federal agency would be taking a hands-off approach to producers and sellers of marijuana in two states that recently legalized the drug. But agriculture officials say the ruling could also have a significant impact on states that have legalized hemp, which is a form of cannabis that lacks any psychotropic power but is nonetheless classified as a Schedule 1 narcotic by the federal government.

“The federal definition of hemp is the same as for marijuana, so any ruling that the Justice Department has given regarding marijuana should apply to hemp as well, according to the legal opinions I’ve been given,” says Rob Kidd, an organizer with Rural Vermont.

Gov. Peter Shumlin earlier this year signed into law a bill that legalized the cultivation of hemp in Vermont. But while the statute freed would-be growers from prosecution by the state, the prospect of federal interdiction, and the destruction of crops or seizure of land that might accompany an arrest, dampened farmers’ enthusiasm for taking advantage of the new law.

One of the few farmers to publicly announce his intention to grow hemp in Vermont had planned on purchasing a small plot of land through a separate limited liability company, so as to protect his assets from forfeiture should federal officers opt to prosecute.

– Read the entire article at Rutland Herald.