As states weigh legalizing marijuana, the feds legalize hemp

February 5
Hemp got a big boost this week thanks to a tiny clause in the farm bill. Well, “industrial hemp.” Aaron Blake explains. (Jeff Simon/The Washington Post)

It might be a long time before the federal government legalizes recreational marijuana. But once President Obama signs the new five-year farm bill that won passage in the Senate on Tuesday, its less controversial cousin, hemp, will have the all-clear.

A short clause buried deep in the 959-page bill authorizes colleges and universities to grow industrial hemp for research purposes, so long as their state permits the growth and cultivation of the plant.

Right now, that’s nine states: California, Oregon, Montana, Colorado, North Dakota, Kentucky, West Virginia, Vermont, and Maine. Another 11 states have bills pending before their legislatures this year.

Ed O'Keefe contributed to this report.

Related: D.C. Council weakens bill to decriminalize marijuana

Related: Hemp legalization effort gathers steam

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Jaime Fuller · February 5