It’s hard to talk about hemp without hippie jokes but the plant is actually one of the world’s most versatile crops, and has been used for centuries as a foodstuff, fabric, and fiber.

Grown in colonial New England and Virginia, hemp is today cultivated in every industrialized nation in the world other than the United States. While hemp seeds and oils can be safely consumed and hemp clothes can be bought and worn across the US, all of the hemp used to create these products must be imported from abroad.

Struggling American farmers have missed out on this growing market because, for over sixty years now, the Drug Enforcement Administration has grouped all varieties of the Cannabis sativa plant together in spite of the fact that industrial hemp contains only trace amounts of psychotropic THC–a fraction of what’s present in marijuana.

The Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2009 would help to undo the plant’s stupid misclassification. This bipartisan bill, proposed by Barney Frank (D-Mass) and Ron Paul (R-Texas), has been cosponsored by nine other house members and would allow the states that have passed pro-hemp legislation or resolutions (Arkansas, California, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, North Carolina, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia), considered pro-hemp legislation or resolutions (Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Wisconsin), or where farm groups have advocated for a return to industrial hemp farming (Ohio and Pennsylvania), to choose whether to let farmers grow industrial hemp.

Check out the Vote Hemp Project for more info and ask your elected reps to support the Industrial Hemp Farming Act.

Written by Corbin Hiar with research from the Vote Hemp Project.