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Legalizing Weed: Key Players in California's Legalization of Industrial Hemp Farming

By    |   Monday, 16 Nov 2015 01:55 AM

Amidst a growing trend toward legalizing weed, California in 2013 joined the list of states that have legalized hemp to capitalize on the demand for hemp-based products.

The United States banned the production of hemp in 1957 because of the plant's connection to the manufacture of marijuana. However, as The Huffington Post reported, the plant contains only a minute amount of tetrahydrocannabinol, the high-inducing ingredient in the drug. In the 1990s, the U.S. began importing the plant from other countries for food, fabric, and other uses.

Here are three people who played a key role in the process of legalizing industrial hemp in the California.

Urgent: Should Marijuana Be Legalized in All States?

1. State Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco)
State Sen. Mark Leno wrote Senate Bill 566, passed in 2013, which legalized the growing of hemp for industrial purposes in California. He also authored Senate Bill 676, which Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed in 2011 because passing the bill would have gone against the federal ban on hemp farming. Speaking after Gov. Brown signed into law SB 566, Leno said the bill would "help sustain family farms in California for the future and likely create more job opportunities. Hemp is a $500 million a year industry in California, and it's growing at 10 percent annually," the San Francisco Bay Guardian reported.

2. California Gov. Jerry Brown
As reported by The Huffington Post in October 2013, California Gov. Brown signed into law SB 566. The bill made it legal to grow industrial hemp in the state. It wasn't the first time Gov. Brown had made a decision on industrial hemp farming. As reported by The Sacramento Bee, in 2011 Brown vetoed Senate Bill 676, also authored by Sen. Leno. The bill would have established a short-term pilot program for industrial hemp farming in several California counties. Back then, Brown noted that he supported legalizing the practice, but that doing so would place the state at odds with federal law.

3. California Attorney General Kamala Harris
When California passed SB 566, cultivating hemp was still illegal at the federal level. State officials turned to Harris, the state's attorney general, for an opinion on what this meant for state hemp farmers. In 2014, when President Barack Obama signed the Farm Bill — which included an amendment permitting industrialized hemp research — Harris confirmed that some in the state could now legally cultivate and harvest hemp, saying "federal law authorizes, and the Hemp Act permits, institutions of higher education and the CDFA [California Department of Food and Agriculture] to grow and cultivate industrial hemp for purposes of agricultural or academic research," the East Bay Express reported.

VOTE NOW: Is California Gov. Jerry Brown Doing a Good Job?

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Amidst a growing trend toward legalizing weed, California in 2013 joined the list of states that have legalized hemp to capitalize on the demand for hemp-based products.
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Monday, 16 Nov 2015 01:55 AM
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