Gov. Jerry Brown today vetoed legislation that would have permitted the cultivation of industrial hemp in California, though the Democratic governor didn't seem pleased about it.
Introduced by Senator Mark Leno, SB 676 would have created an 8-year pilot program to allow industrial hemp farming in four California counties: Kern, Kings, Imperial, and San Joaquin. This is the third time in ten years that the California legislature has passed a hemp farming bill. However, SB 676 is further refined than previous bills and had significant support from businesses, farming groups, local governments, labor unions, and even law enforcement.
In a veto message, Brown said federal law considers industrial hemp to be a regulated, controlled substance, and that failure to obtain a federal permit would subject California farmers to federal prosecution.
"Although I am not signing this measure, I do support a change in federal law," Brown said in a veto message. "Products made from hemp - clothes, food, and bath products - are legally sold in California every day. It is absurd that hemp is being imported into the state, but our farmers cannot grow it."
After moving smoothly through the California legislature with bi-partisan support, the landmark legislation was sent to the Governor for signature and would have established guidelines for farming the non-psychoactive plant that is used in a wide variety of every day consumer products, including food, body care, clothing, paper, auto parts, building materials and bio-fuel.
California businesses spend millions of dollars each year importing hemp from Canada, China and Europe. Demand for hemp products has been growing rapidly in recent years. It is estimated that the U.S. hemp market now exceeds an estimated $419 million in annual retail sales. From natural soaps to healthy foods, there is a large variety of “Made in California” hemp products that could greatly benefit from an in-state source of hemp seed, fiber and oil.