Introduced under the Farm Bill, the Free to Grow Act would end the unfair drug felony prohibition for hemp farmers?
Today, senior House Agriculture Committee member Congresswoman Chellie Pingree, alongside Representatives David Trone (D-Md.), David Joyce (R-Ohio), and Nancy Mace (R-S.C.), introduced bipartisan legislation to end the unfair drug felony prohibition for hemp farmers. The Free to Grow Act aims would expand economic opportunities for formerly incarcerated individuals.
“While hemp production was federally legalized by the 2018 Farm Bill, the industry’s growth is being stunted by red tape, discriminatory policy, and regulatory uncertainty,” said Pingree. “The upcoming Farm Bill gives Congress a once-in-five-years opportunity to correct the unfair policy that bans people with drug convictions from growing hemp. I am proud to join Reps. Trone, Joyce, and Mace in that effort by introducing the Free to Grow Act, addressing this injustice and supporting a thriving hemp economy.”
Despite the fact that Congress legalized hemp farming under the Farm Bill in 2018, the law prohibits people with a felony drug conviction within the past 10 years from cultivating hemp. This is especially troublesome considering that the annual value of U.S. hemp production has grown to over $800 million. By preventing formerly incarcerated individuals from participating in a growing industry, we are further exacerbating their potential inability to start a business and thrive financially.
The Free to Grow Act is endorsed by Americans for Prosperity, DREAM.Org, Drug Policy Alliance, Due Process Institute, Minorities for Medical Marijuana Cannabis & Hemp Policy, R St Institute, U.S. Hemp Roundtable.