Efforts are gathering steam from a wide political spectrum in Congress to re-authorize hemp production, says the Wall Street Journal. Pro-hemp legislative measures have been introduced or carried over this year in seven states. Several states have already removed barriers to hemp production. “We’ve never had a better situation than we do right now,” said Eric Steenstra, president of Vote Hemp, a not-for-profit advocacy group. Significant obstacles remain. Previous pro-hemp bills in Congress went nowhere. The White House has taken a dim view of the crop.
“Hemp and marijuana are part of the same species of cannabis plant,” wrote Gil Kerlikowske, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, last year. He added that hemp contains tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the psychoactive compound in marijuana. Proponents point out the amount of THC in hemp is minimal—usually less than 1 percent, which is considered the threshold for potentially generating a high. By comparison, THC levels in marijuana average 10 percent and can reach 30 percent or more. Hemp legislation in the U.S., as well as in European countries where growing it is legal, usually sets the ceiling for THC content at 0.3 percent.