Legalizing hemp in Tennessee
Posted in the Rogersville Forum
#1 Aug 14, 2013
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Legalizing hemp in Tennessee
Posted: Aug 14, 2013 9:30 AM EST Updated: Aug 14, 2013 10:40 AM EST
"The hemp clothing - you can't wear it out...." Amber Keirn is what you might call a hemp expert.
What started as a hobby... "We started with hemp necklaces... just making them. And we said -- this is so easy a Monkey could do it!" Turned into a business -- aptly named, Hemp Monkey.
But their profitable plant is often associated with another.
Amber Keirn, Hemp Monkey, "Hemp and marijuana are two different plants. They are cousins they do not have the same qualities. Ones used for its fibers and its oils, the other's used for ,well, you know what its used for"
Sen. Frank Niceley,(R) Strawberry Plains, "Its not marijuana, you can't smoke it. But you can make 1000's of products from it. And we import about half a billion dollars of it a year."
Dollars, Senator Frank Nicely believes could benefit Tennessee farmers.
"Why not? Its not against the law to own it. Its not against the law to import it from China or Canada. Its just illegal for a farmer to grow it."
Hemp became illegal after World War 2 due to competition, and its association with the marijuana plant.
But in recent years, states have fought to change that Kentucky legislators just passed a law to legalize industrial hemp farming. A farmer, himself, Senator Nicely is watching our northern neighbor closely. "Sometimes its easy to use those other states for model legislation. If it works there, it might work here." With a little research, he says he may draft legislation in the future.
Rather than importing hemp, the Hemp Monkey crew would prefer to buy local, and supports the idea. So long as it means few restrictions. "If people will leave it alone and let it be natural and not synthesize it, we've got it made, we've got one heck of a product."
Even if Tennessee passes a law to legalize hemp, it is still illegal on the federal level.
Senator Nicely says if states can legalize marijuana, it's possible to get the same consideration for hemp.
#2 Aug 25, 2013
Tenn. lawmakers drafting hemp bill
KNOXVILLE, Tenn.(AP)— Two state lawmakers in Tennessee are pointing to Kentucky's recent approval of hemp farming as they push for a similar measure.
The Knoxville News Sentinel reports Republican Sen. Frank Niceley of Strawberry Plains is drafting a bill with Republican Rep. Andy Holt of Dresden, and they plan to introduce the measure in next year's legislative session.
Nicely said Kentucky and six other states have passed measures legalizing hemp even though federal law prohibits it. Nicely said there also is support for changing federal laws, notably from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Rand Paul, both from Kentucky.
He said introducing the measure in the Tennessee Legislature would "put pressure on Congress" to repeal its prohibition on growing the plant.
#3 Apr 11, 2014
Tennessee farmers poised to start hemp production.
Tennessee farmers are a signature away from growing industrial hemp after a bill allowing it sailed through the state Senate Wednesday afternoon.
That's not to be confused with marijuana — hemp's psychoactive cousin. Hemp is the stuff of shoes, rope, paper and plastics. Health-food enthusiasts eat its seeds for protein and omega-3 fats. All are money-making products that prompted Sen. Frank Niceley, R-Strawberry Plains, to champion growing it here. At least nine other states have industrial hemp laws.
The bill passed after amendments defining industrial hemp and requiring the Department of Agriculture to start writing rules 120 days after passage. It now will go to Gov. Bill Haslam for his signature.
When Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey opened the floor for Niceley to discuss his bill, the senator merely moved for passage, which he got: 29 ayes, 0 nays.
"I figured this one you'd want to talk about," Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey said, drawing chuckles from legislators.
Other than the governor's signature, another hurdle is U.S. policy, which basically treats hemp as a controlled substance. States that remove hemp bans will be closer to capitalizing on the crop if the federal government reconsiders its stance, said Tom Murphy, spokesman for the national Vote Hemp group.
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