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Tennessee lawmakers seek to nullify federal hemp ban

By Justin King     Apr 18, 2014 in Business
Nashville - This week lawmakers in Tennessee completed the final step before a bill legalizing the production of hemp could be sent to the Governor. If signed, the bill could nullify federal laws banning its production, depending on how the state law is implemented.
The bill written by Representative Jeremy Faison overwhelmingly cleared Tennessee’s General Assembly. In the state Senate, not a single senator voted against the bill.
The legislation compels the state’s Department of Agriculture to issue permits allowing the production of hemp. Tennessee’s Department of Agriculture has 120 days from the date of signing to establish regulations for the issuing of licenses.
While full-scale production of the plant is still banned under federal law, a small section deep inside the almost 1000-page Farm Bill, signed into law by President Obama in February authorizes it to be grown under certain circumstances for research purposes. It is unclear if Tennessee intends to move ahead with full-scale production immediately.
Mike Maharrey of the Tenth Amendment Center believes the state will move ahead, and points to the wording of the legislation.
By including the word ‘shall’ in this legislation, it has a great deal of impact. This means that rather than keeping it open-ended like other states have done, hemp farming will be able to move forward in Tennessee whether the regulatory bureaucrats there want it to or not.
Though the plant is similar to marijuana, it contains very little of the psychoactive ingredient THC. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation initially opposed the bill until an amendment was added providing for oversight of production. Agency spokesman Josh DeVine said
We opposed the bill when first introduced because, as written, it allowed for the production of industrial hemp without any oversight. The amendment, added during the legislative process, requires oversight and licensing from the state's Department of Agriculture. With that in mind, we don't have a particular position on the issue one way or the other.
The plant is fast-growing, and a crop can yield in just four months. The plant’s commercial uses seem endless. Bio-fuels, textiles, lipstick, paper, and even some plastic products can all be manufactured using this renewable resource that replenishes itself quickly.
More about Hemp, Marijuana, industrial hemp, Nullification, tenth amendment
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