Madam Speaker, I rise to speak about Hemp History Week. To celebrate the American heritage of growing industrial hemp, the Hemp Industries Association, Vote Hemp, several American manufacturers, and allied companies and organizations have declared May 17 to May 23 to be Hemp History Week. Throughout the week, people will recognize America's legacy of industrial hemp farming and call for reinstating respect for farmers' basic right to grow industrial hemp.
Industrial hemp was legally grown throughout our country for many years. In fact, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew industrial hemp and used it to make cloth. During World War II, the federal government encouraged American farmers to grow hemp to help the war effort.
Despite industrial hemp farming being an important part of American history, the federal government has banned cultivation of this crop. In every other industrialized country, industrial hemp, defined to contain less than 0.3 percent THC--the psychoactive chemical found in marijuana, may be legally grown. Nobody can be psychologically affected by consuming industrial hemp. Unfortunately, because of a federal policy that does not distinguish between growing industrial hemp and growing marijuana, all hemp products and materials must be imported. The result is high prices, outsourced jobs, and lost opportunities for American manufacturing.
Reintroducing industrial hemp farming in the United States would bring jobs to communities struggling in today's economy, provide American farmers with another crop alternative, and encourage the development of hemp processing factories near American hemp farming.
Industrial hemp is used in many products. For example, industrial hemp is used in protein supplements, non-dairy milk, and frozen desserts. Hemp flour is in breads, crackers, chips, dips, and dressings. Hemp seeds may be eaten plain or added to prepared foods. Additionally, hemp oil is used in a number of cosmetic and body care products, and hemp fiber is used in cloths. Industrial hemp is also present in bio-composite materials used in buildings and automobiles.