Senator Ron Wyden Fights For Hemp Rights, Says It's Not Marijuana

By Brent McCluskey 06/11/15

The senior senator from Oregon compared U.S. policy on hemp to banning Portobello mushrooms.

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We want hemp! Photo via

In celebration of national hemp history week, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) stood up for the prohibited plant, arguing that it is essential for American farmers to be permitted to grow it.

In Wyden’s speech, he pointed out that some years back, hemp was lumped in with marijuana and its production has been prohibited ever since. While the plant is similar to marijuana, they are not one in the same, he said.

“But everything got changed when hemp got wrapped up with marijuana in federal regulations and it’s been banned ever since,” Wyden said. “Are they related? Maybe industrial hemp and marijuana are related species, but one should not be confused with the other, much like a chihuahua and a Saint Bernard.”

Wyden went on to point out that America is the world’s largest consumer of hemp products, but one of the few nations that prohibits farmers from growing it. While hemp does contain small amounts of THC, it is chemically very different from marijuana.

“Industrial hemp and marijuana might be related plant species but there are big differences between them like their chemical makeup,” Wyden said. “Because they are not the same plant they should not be treated with the same regulations and prohibitions. In my view, keeping the ban on growing hemp makes about as much sense as instituting a ban on Portobello mushrooms. There’s no reason to outlaw a product that’s perfectly safe because of what it’s related to.”

Wyden’s proposed bill would overturn the longstanding hemp ban imposed by the Controlled Substances Act, and would allow American farmers to grow the plant on American land and sell it to American consumers.

“These products are products that are sold all across America and we ought to have a chance for our farmers—farmers in Nebraska, farmers in Arkansas, farmers in Indiana—to be able to grow this product and reap the benefits of the private economy associated with it,” he said.

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Brent McCluskey is a Social Media Editor at International Business Times as well as a Jedi with Sith tendencies.  He is also a reader of books, slayer of dragons, and level 80 mage.

“Yeah, I have a broad skill set. If I had to pick between being a Divergent or a wizard, I'd pick a wizard.”  His wizardness can be found on Twitter and Linkedin.