20 Oktober 2007

California: Schwarzenegger vetoes industrial hemp bill

Setback for U.S. hemp cultivation

Arnold Schwarzenegger, Governor for the U.S. state of California, has vetoed “The California Industrial Hemp Farming Act” (AB 684). This legislation would have established guidelines for the farming of industrial hemp. The new law would have established a five-year pilot project in four counties to allow farmers to legally supply California manufacturers that currently must import hemp raw materials (including seed, oil and fiber) from Canada and elsewhere.

In a statement on his web site, Schwarzenegger said, “I am very concerned that this bill would give legitimate growers a false sense of security and a belief that production of “industrial hemp” is somehow a legal activity under federal law. Under federal law, all cannabis plants, regardless of variety or THC content, are simply considered to be “marijuana”, which is a federally regulated controlled substance. In addition, California law enforcement has expressed concerns that implementation of this measure could place a drain on their resources and cause significant problems with drug enforcement activities.”

“Governor Schwarzenegger’s veto message ignores the fact that California regularly enacts laws that face federal scrutiny and even litigation,” says Patrick Goggin, California Council for Vote Hemp, the nation’s leading industrial hemp farming advocacy group. “The vetoed bill is no different than numerous other bills the Governor has signed that asserted the state’s right to regulate where the U.S. Congress has not.”

AB 684 would have clarified that the cultivation of industrial hemp is legal only on the condition it contains no more than 0.3% Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The legislation was jointly authored by Democratic Assemblyman Mark Leno and Republican Assemblyman Chuck DeVore.

Californian industry imports from Canada, China and Europe
According to Vote Hemp, Californian businesses spend millions of dollars each year importing hemp from Canada, China and Europe. Demand for hemp products has been growing rapidly in recent years. The North American hemp market now exceeds an estimated $300 million in annual retail sales.

The Governor’s veto message, along with additional background on the bill, can be found here on the “Vote Hemp” web site. The govenor’s statement on his veto is available here (PDF-document).

Please note: The European Industrial Hemp Association (EIHA) invites professionals on hemp and other natural fibers to the Fifth International EIHA conference in Hürth near Cologne/ Germany on November 19th to 20th, 2007. The conference will provide information about the latest developments concerning hemp and other natural fibres worldwide. Further information is available here.

(Cf. news of 2007-06-04 and 2007-01-15.)

Source: Vote Hemp, press release, 2007-10-12 and Office of the Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, veto message, 2007-10-11.

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