Other Federal Agency Actions
In 1994, President Clinton issued Executive Order 12919, “National Defense Industrial Resources Preparedness,” which was intended to strengthen the U.S. industrial and technology base for meeting national defense requirements. The order included hemp among the essential agricultural products that should be stocked for defense preparedness purposes.114 Some hemp supporters have argued that the executive order gives hemp a renewed value as a strategic crop for national security purposes in line with its role in World War II.115
USDA has supported research on alternative crops and industrial uses of common commodities since the late 1930s. Some alternative crops have become established in certain parts of the United States—kenaf (for fiber) in Texas, jojoba (for oil) in Arizona and California, and amaranth (for nutritious grain) in the Great Plains states. Many have benefits similar to those ascribed to hemp but are not complicated by having a psychotropic variety within the same species.
The Critical Agricultural Materials Act of 1984 (P.L. 98-284, 7 U.S.C. §178) supports the supplemental and alternative crops provisions of the 1985 and 1990 omnibus farm acts and other authorities and funds research and development on alternative crops at USDA and state laboratories.116 In addition, Section 1473D of the National Agricultural Research, Extension, and Teaching Policy Act of 1977 (7 U.S.C. §3319d(c)) authorizes USDA to make competitive grants toward the development of new commercial products derived from natural plant material for industrial, medical, and agricultural applications. To date, these authorities have not been used to develop hemp cultivation and use.
The United States is a signatory of the United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961.117 The principal objectives of the convention are to “limit the possession, use, trade in, distribution, import, export, manufacture and production of drugs exclusively to medical and scientific purposes and to address drug trafficking through international cooperation to deter and discourage drug traffickers.”118 The convention requires that each party control cannabis cultivation within its borders. However, Article 28.2 of the convention states, “This Convention shall not apply to the cultivation of the cannabis plant exclusively for industrial purposes (fibre and seed) or horticultural purposes.” Thus the convention need not present an impediment to the development of a regulated hemp farming sector in the United States.