Members of Oregon Delegation Welcome OSU Progress on Hemp Research

November 5, 2015
Press Release

Washington, DC – Today, Senator Ron Wyden and Representatives Earl Blumenauer, Peter DeFazio, Kurt Schrader, and Suzanne Bonamici welcomed news that Oregon State University (OSU) is taking action to implement the industrial hemp research pilot program in Oregon.

“I’m glad to see OSU taking an important step forward and applying to the DEA for a license to import hemp seeds, signaling their plans to engage in legal hemp research,” said Blumenauer. “When I worked to pass the amendment to the Farm Bill over two years ago that allows for industrial hemp research at universities and colleges, I believed OSU would be the perfect institution to help pave the way. The cultivation of industrial hemp represents a significant opportunity for Oregon agriculture. I look forward to continuing to work with OSU to make sure they can get their program up and running as soon as possible.” 

“Researching the vast potential for hemp is the first key step to making Oregon a national leader in industrial hemp production, which is why I’m so glad that Oregon State University today announced it’s working toward that goal,” Wyden said. “I’m going to keep working to build support for the bipartisan Industrial Hemp Farming Act I introduced earlier this year to remove outdated barriers to innovation and make room for a thriving hemp industry in Oregon.”

“The industrial hemp industry holds enormous potential benefit for Oregon agriculture,” said DeFazio. “I’m pleased that congressional efforts have helped OSU pursue research in this important field. With OSU leading the way, once again Oregon will pioneer in a promising area of agriculture.”

“Oregon farmers wanting to participate in this industrial hemp pilot program shouldn’t be tangled in red tape. OSU is one of the country’s best universities for agricultural research and I’m pleased they are working with ODA to make this program a reality,” said Schrader.

“Hemp is a valuable agricultural commodity that can be found in more than 25,000 commercial products including food, paper, beauty products, and more,” said Bonamici. “Permitting OSU to study hemp production will help open the door for a sustainable industry that can make a range of products from rope to soap, and I applaud OSU for submitting the application.”

Hemp finds its way into more than 25,000 different products around the world, from lotions to protein bars to auto parts to fuel. American retailers are estimated to sell nearly $500 million worth of products containing hemp seeds and fibers every year. Yet because of outdated federal drug laws that treat hemp like marijuana, American farmers have not been able to cultivate hemp or take advantage of an expanding retail market.

In 2014, Congress included an amendment to the Farm Bill that allows accredited colleges and universities to grow and cultivate industrial hemp for research purposes in states where it is already legal under state law. This represents a significant opportunity for Oregon agriculture, and many states have begun to move forward implementing industrial hemp research pilot programs, in accordance with the 2014 Farm Bill.