House Approves Measures to Keep DEA Hands Off Hemp


Cedward Brice/Flickr

Along with a much-needed measure to end federal funding for medical marijuana raids, the House of Representatives also approved two measures aimed at stopping state hemp seed seizures by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

In the wake of a recent debacle involving the DEA's seizure of hemp seeds headed to Kentucky's Agriculture Department, House members approved the two hemp-related related amendments to the DEA funding bill Friday morning,

One amendment, introduced by Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.)—also part of the coalition behind the "Interstate Milk Freedom Act of 2014"—blocks the Department of Justice (DOJ), including the DEA, from interfering with states' importation of hemp seeds. It passed 246-162. 

The second amendment, from Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.), stops the DOJ and DEA from interfering with states' implementation of laws authorizing industrial hemp activities approved under this year's farm bill. It was approved by a vote of 237-170. 

"Passed my amendment to allow farmers to grow industrial #hemp," Rep. Bonamici tweeted this morning. "It's a natural resource, not a drug. #ropenotdope." 

Note that the 2014 federal farm bill explicitly legalized industrial hemp farming and research, under certain conditions. (Also that the illegality of hemp—a totally non-psychoactive form of the cannabis plant—is even more absurd and unwarranted than the federal prohibition of marijuana.) It's sad that Reps. Massie and Bonamici's amendments to the DEA funding bill are needed, that lawmakers need to threaten the DEA's funding in order to make the agency comply with federal policy.

The Senate is still expected to consider its own DEA and DOJ appropriations bill, so these hemp amendments (and the amendment aimed at stopping federal interfernce with state medical marijuana laws) have to make it through a joint conference before final passage. 

Here's Rep. Bonamici talking about her hemp amendment on the House floor: 

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  1. Won’t somebody please think of the children who won’t be flashbanged?

  2. What’s to stop the DEA from ignoring the law?

    1. Two things:

      1) Their deep and abiding respect for Constitutionally legitimate rule of law.

      2) The absolute certainty that Congress is willing to follow through on its threat to cut agency funding if they ignore the law.

      1. So, absolutely nothing, then.

  3. Rep. Bonamici & Rep. Thomas Massie

    Feels weird agreeing with a member of both TEAMZ, but I’ll take the win. Baby steps.

    1. Massie is technically on a ‘team’ but he’s actually as close to a libertarian as we are likely to get in Congress.

      1. J. Amash is right there with him.

        Holy crap, I’m scared that Amash is going to lose–maybe even in his primary.

        Chamber of Commerce is gunning for him.

  4. Welp – congress has passed their law, now let’s see them enforce it.

    To paraphrase Stalin – ‘How many divisions does congress have?’

    That’s right, none since they’ve effectively abrogated their control over the Executive.

  5. I’m kind of surprised the fight between federal and state officials hasn’t come to more of a head, but then I remember that politicians are generally cowards. Repealing the 17th wouldn’t be a complete panacea, but it would help.

    1. I’ve never got the repeal the 17th thing. Politicians are generally cowards so let’s let them choose our senators rather than we the people. That’ll fix some things!

      1. Politicians are also power hungry. Before the 17th if the feds tried to usurp a state power the Senate would generally stop them. It was a way to set the interest of different power hungry assholes against one another.

        1. I guess I can see that, but I think I’m a better chooser of what is good for my state than my lifetime career state pols.

          1. If you’re actually choosing your representatives in Congress, it’s almost certain that you’re doing it wrong.

            If you’re choosing any of the assholes we have in Congress or our various state legislatures you’re most certainly voting for the wrong person.

          2. So you choose your fed reps but not your state? Are federal lifetime career pols somehow good? It puts another interest in the mix as the senators would actually represent state interests rather than federal power. Right now senators are only interested in their own power and voters vote for a team.

      2. The idea is that the Senate would then be restored to its original purpose as representatives of the interests of each individual state, rather than just another House with fewer members and longer terms. Although I doubt it would make much difference at this point in time.

      3. The idea is that if the Senate represented the state governments, they would block things like unfunded mandates and those bills where the feds withhold funds unless the states pass certain legislation. Things like that.

    2. The reason the states tug their forelocks whenever the feds come around is because the feds have bought them off with billions of dollars of transfer funding.

  6. I have a feeling the administration’s getting the blame for an oversight by Congress in drafting the ag bill. Like, the US code was left with language that required DEA to act in a certain way, and the legislators forgot to repeal that part. Hence the need for the present amendment.

  7. I’m curious. What is the only thing that can’t be made from hemp? Youtube cut out that word too.

  8. What took them so long? Why was it so difficult to tear down the wall built by Hearst and DuPont so many decades ago?

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