Sen. Ron Wyden visits Woodburn to discuss legalizing hemp
U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden visited Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm on Thursday to hear from those in the hemp industry and to share his efforts to push for federal legalization of industrial hemp as part of the Senate Farm Bill.
Sens. Wyden (D-Oregon), Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon), Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) and Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) introduced the Hemp Farming Act of 2018 in April. Oregon and Kentucky are two of four states that have legalized growing industrial hemp.
"If you can sell it in a major grocery store, you ought to be able to grow it," Wyden said at the roundtable event that hosted a group involved in the hemp industry, including Colorado-based hemp grower and retailer Charlotte's Web and actor Jim Belushi, who has a cannabis farm in Eagle Point.
"This is all about ending an anti-farmer, anti-common sense policy, and we have been able to get it into the Farm Bill and it hits all of the elements that were in that bill," Wyden continued. "We're going to get this out of being considered marijuana. What we've said is, if you try to smoke this you'll waste your lighter fluid and get a big headache because it doesn't have THC content. It's going to regulated like a farm product."
In Oregon, there are currently about 420 industrial hemp growers, and the number is rapidly rising. Among those numbers is Wooden Shoe's new industrial hemp operation, which also includes an extraction lab and online business under the name Red Barn Hemp. The farm sells creams, muscle gels, capsures and infused oil for pain relief and other healing effects using cannabidiol (CBD oil), which lacks tetrahydrocannabinol, better known as THC, which is what causes the mind-altering effects in marijuana. Despite facing many road blocks because of federal and state overlap, from banking to shipping, the farm is growing fast.
"Our climate here is really ideal for growing hemp," farm co-owner Barb Iverson said. "We've added 17 full-time jobs in the last nine months, and we're still growing. With our current agricultural commodity prices, this crop has great potential for farmers and Oregon could become a leader in this industry."Wyden and other visitors got a tour of the extraction lab and the hemp fields at Wooden Shoe.