A member of Congress just brought two baskets full of cannabis products onto the floor of the United States Senate.
But not the kind that gets you high.
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), as part of a weeklong series of actions on Capitol Hill in support of industrial hemp, pointed to his collection of non-psychoactive cannabis-based foods and cosmetics during a speech on Wednesday.
“It is Hemp History Week again, and that is why I’m back on the Senate floor to talk about the only Schedule One controlled substance that you can sew into a t-shirt and wear through TSA,” he said.
Directing a staffer who accompanied him on the floor to hold up the hemp products, Wyden said:
“He’s got a few Schedule One snack bars. He’s got some Schedule One hand soap. He’s even wearing a Schedule One necktie. The point is, they’re all perfectly legal products you’ll find on shelves in stores throughout the nation, but because the hemp had to be imported, none of it could be considered fully American-made.”
Wyden, who talked about seeing many hemp foods stocked on the shelves of his local grocery store, decried the fact that the products can only be made with crops that are grown in other countries and imported to the U.S.
“There can’t be many policies on the books that are more anti-farmer than that one,” he said. “Hemp growers in places like Canada and China must just be laughing all the way to the bank. They’re cashing in, while our farmers have their hands tied by the current hemp restrictions.”
“If you can buy it at a supermarket in America, our farmers ought to be allowed to grow it in America.”
Hemp and marijuana are both varietals of the cannabis plant. And, under current federal law, they are both treated as illegal Schedule I substances (with some limited exceptions).
On Tuesday, the Senate unanimously approved a resolution that Wyden introduced recognizing hemp’s “growing economic potential” and “historical relevance.”
The nonbinding measure was brought to the floor by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who separately filed a bill to legalize hemp and has announced plans to insert its language into the larger Farm Bill that is moving through Congress.
The standalone bill already has nearly a third of all senators signed on as cosponsors.
“Hemp is not a drug, and treating it like one was wrong from the get-go,” Wyden said in the Wednesday floor speech. “Smoking hemp would be nothing but a waste of time, breath and lighter fluid. It defies common sense that our laws consider hemp to be dangerous and addictive like crystal meth. Having one too many hemp granola bars might give you a stomach ache, but it you aren’t going to land in the hospital.”
— Ron Wyden (@RonWyden) June 6, 2018
The Oregon senator also gave a bit of a lesson on the crop’s important role in American history.
“Before growing hemp was made illegal, hemp was among the predominant American crops for generations. It was grown in the fields of Mount Vernon,” he said. “It was threaded into the ropes and sails of the first ships made for the United Stats Navy.
“If hemp was easier to rhyme, it might even have its own lyric in ‘America the Beautiful’ right alongside the amber waves of grain.”
Wyden also took to the Senate floor bearing a bounty of hemp products last year:
Photo courtesy of JD Lasica.