For Immediate Release
Friday, October 12, 2007
CONTACT: Patrick Goggin 415-312-0084
Adam Eidinger 202-744-2671
Governor Schwarzenegger Vetoes Industrial Hemp Bill
Bill would have followed North Dakota in permitting industrial hemp farming
SACRAMENTO, CA — Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed AB 684, The California Industrial Hemp Farming Act, yesterday evening, rejecting the will of the vast majority of Californians who supported the legislation. The landmark, bi-partisan legislation would have followed North Dakota in establishing guidelines for the farming of industrial hemp, which is used in a wide variety of everyday consumer products, including food, body care, clothing, paper and auto parts. The new law would have established a five-year pilot project in four counties to allow farmers to legally supply numerous California manufacturers that currently must import hemp raw materials (including seed, oil and fiber) from Canada and elsewhere. The pilot project would have given the hemp industry an opportunity to assess the crop's impact on the state economy and allowed law enforcement to measure any negative effects hemp farming might have had on their drug eradication efforts.
"Governor Schwarzenegger's veto message ignores the fact that California regularly enacts laws that face federal scrutiny and even litigation," says Patrick Goggin, California Council for Vote Hemp, the nation's leading industrial hemp farming advocacy group. "The vetoed bill is no different than numerous other bills the Governor has signed that asserted the state's right to regulate where the U.S. Congress has not."
AB 684 would have clarified that the cultivation of industrial hemp is legal only on the condition it contains no more than three tenths of one percent (0.3%) tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The legislation was jointly authored by Democratic Assemblyman Mark Leno and Republican Assemblyman Chuck DeVore.
"The Governor's environmental credentials should take a hit because of this veto," comments David Bronner, President of both the Hemp Industries Association (HIA) and Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps. "Industrial hemp is about sustainable agriculture that saves our forests, reduces use of agricultural chemicals, and cuts carbon emissions by replacing petroleum-based products with renewable, natural-based alternatives. Governor Schwarzenegger has once again embraced an irrational approach to one of the most environmentally beneficial crops known to man," adds Bronner.
California businesses spend millions of dollars each year importing hemp from Canada, China and Europe. Demand for hemp products has been growing rapidly in recent years. The North American hemp market now exceeds an estimated $300 million in annual retail sales. Making products ranging from natural soaps to healthy foods, there are a wide variety of "Made in California" hemp producers who could benefit from an in-state source of hemp seed, fiber and oil.
John Roulac, founder of California hemp food manufacturer Nutiva, is not discouraged by the veto. "The funny thing is that we are not going away. At a time when resources are running low and polar caps are melting, the general public is moving towards healthy and sustainable solutions. Regardless of what any politician says or does, we will just keep building a billion-dollar hemp foods marketplace. Every mainstream grocery and natural food store's aisles will have stacks of hemp food in the coming decade. It is hard to even think of a food category that hemp will not be a player in."
Vote Hemp's goal was to release California farmers from the over-reaching prohibition on industrial hemp cultivation and reintroduce the crop to the state. AB 684 would have allowed California to follow North Dakota's lead and assert its right to regulate industrial hemp under the U.S. Constitution, the federal law and recent U.S. Circuit Court decisions.
AB 684 would have revitalized commercial industrial hemp farming in California, which occurred in the state until shortly after World War II. Support for state action on industrial hemp farming has been growing among U.S. manufacturers whose appetite for hemp fiber, seed and oil is fueling the increased demand. For example, in the automotive industry, industrial hemp is used in the natural fiber composites that have rapidly replaced fiberglass as the material of choice for vehicle interiors. At least three million cars in North America already have hemp-based components in them.
Hemp is a versatile crop, and its sales are growing as an organic food and body care ingredient. Imports of hemp seed from Canada grew 300% between 2006 and 2007. Today, more than thirty industrialized nations grow industrial hemp, and many export it to the U.S. Incredibly, hemp is the only crop that is legal for Americans to import yet illegal to grow.
Some notable organizations that supported the industrial hemp bill include the Sierra Club, Organic Consumers Association, California Certified Organic Farmers, California State Grange, and Rainforest Action Network.
The Governor's veto message, along with additional background on the bill, can be found online.
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Vote Hemp is a national, single-issue, nonprofit organization dedicated to the acceptance of and free market for low-THC industrial hemp and to changes in current law to allow U.S. farmers to once again grow this agricultural crop. More information about hemp legislation and the crop's many uses may be found at www.VoteHemp.com or www.HempIndustries.org. BETA SP or DVD Video News Releases featuring footage of hemp farming in other countries are available upon request by contacting Adam Eidinger at 202-744-2671.