Farmers hope for federal hands-off approach to hempBy PETER HIRSCHFELD
Vermont Press Bureau | September 17,2013MONTPELIER — A local farming group is cheering a Department of Justice memorandum that it said 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 said 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,” said 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.
Kidd said the federal government’s policy against interfering with the legal marijuana trade in Colorado and Washington — the states adopted a tax-and-regulate model in public referenda — likely means prospective hemp growers can breathe easy in Vermont.
This morning in Montpelier, Rural Vermont will host a press conference at which they are expected to hoist over the Statehouse lawn a U.S. flag woven from hemp fiber. Hemp proponents are expected to tout the economic benefits of a plant that generates higher per-acre monetary yields than most conventional crops.
“We have purposefully kept the debate over hemp separate from the debate over marijuana, because they’re two very different things,” Kidd said. “But this federal decision in response to new marijuana laws definitely looks to have some implications on what we’ve been trying to do.”
Kidd said his organization is looking for clarification from federal officials confirming the directive will also apply to hemp. Sen. Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, took testimony from the DOJ on its marijuana policy last week, though the issue of hemp never arose.
A Leahy spokesman said that the Democratic senator would be submitting written questions to the DOJ addressing the hemp issue specifically.
Peter.firstname.lastname@example.orgMORE IN Vermont NewsMONTPELIER — This weekend will mark the official unveiling of the “Lost Shul,” an Eastern... Full Story
- Most Popular
- Most Emailed
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: On this day 1739, 'Richard Palmer' identified in prison at York Castle as the notorious outlaw DICK TURPIN; IN 1836, Battle of the Alamo begins near San Antonio de Bexar, Texas; 1896, the Tootsie Roll invented by LEO HIRSCHFELD.
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: On this day in 1472, Orkney, Shetland islands put up as collateral by Norway to Scotland in lieu of dowry for MARGARET OF DENMARK on her marriage with JAMES III, king of Scotland; 1962, JOHN GLENN first American to orbit Earth.
- TOMORROW'S HEADLINES TODAY: City mayoral candidates debate campaign issues; Hartford, Conn., woman still missing; Neal Goswami reports attempts to legislate suicide; local woman loses 100 pounds through TOPS program.
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: On this day in 1878, JOHN TUNSTALL murdered near Lincoln, New Mexico, by the outlaw JESSE EVANS; in 1930, ELM FARM OLLIE first cow to fly in aircraft, first to be milked airborne; 1955, nuke test WASP; '79, snow in Sahara.
- TOMORROW'S HEADLINES TODAY: Rutland Herald News Editor Alan J. Keays and staff writer Gordon Dritschilo discuss stories planned for the February 18, 2015, edition of the newspaper: Winter budgets maxed, legal marijuana, Springfield bank job, USPS slowdown
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: On this day in 1249 AD, ANDRE of LONGJUMEAU is dispatched by LOUIS IX of France to meet the KHAGAN, ruler of the Mongol Empire; in 1804, during 1st Barbary War, STEPHEN DECATUR scuttles the pirate-held USS Philadelphia in Tripoli.