The 2014 Farm Bill, signed by President Obama February 2014, lifted the ban on hemp farming for “research purposes” only, holding in place the ban on hemp farming for commercial purposes.
After a few amendments, Maine’s House and Senate passed the bill on to the governor, Republican Paul LePage, who vetoed it, citing the “legal risks for Maine’s farmers” because federal law has yet to exclude “industrial hemp from its definition of ‘marihuana’.”
However, the Maine legislature officially overrode the governor’s veto. The Maine House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted to override the governor with a vote of 135 in favor to 6 against on Friday, June 12, 2015. The Maine Senate followed suit on Monday, June 15, 2015 with a vote of 27 in favor to 6 against.
Maine’s major industries include shipbuilding, fishing, tourism, and agriculture. The U.S. market for hemp is at least $600 million per year with over 25,000 uses for hemp including food, fabrics, cosmetics, plastics, and biofuel. U.S. is the number one importer of hemp in the world with Canada and China act as the leading exporters of hemp in the world. This law will greatly benefit Maine’s economy, not to mention that hemp is well suited for organic production as hemp can grow densely and control weeds.
The final version of LD#4 can be found here, and its terms will be effective state law 90 days from June 16, 2015.
I am cynically waiting to see whether the US Drug Enforcement Agency will use its resources and tax-funded budgets to prosecute Maine farmers for participation in the commercial hemp market.