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Archive for the ‘Captiol Hill’ Category

New Congressional Cosponsor!

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

The Industrial Hemp Farming Act, H.R. 1866 received it’s newest cosponsor last week!  Congresswoman Chellie Pingree of Maine signed on, becoming our 25th Cosponsor!

Ms. Pingree is a liberal member from Maine and a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.  We have been trying to attract her attention ever since Maine passed their farm bill, LD 1159.  Finally, thanks to the help of Vote Hemp Outreach Director Tom Murphy, we gained her as a cosponsor.

And what did Tom do?  Something you can do too!  He called her office and asked when there would be an opportunity to see her.  They told him about an upcoming fundraiser, open to the public.  He attended, and saw her mingling.  He approached her, and waited his turn.  Then, like any other constituent, he had two minutes to thank her for all she’s doing, and tell her about other issues important to Maine.  Sometimes you win, sometime you lose, BUT YO HAVE TO PLAY IN ORDER TO WIN!!  This time, He won.

We won.

Hemp Fest

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010
If you’re going to be at Hempfest, find me and you’ll get free Hemp!
Here’s the Facebook Event:
Hope to see you there!!

Congress Passes Historic Legislation

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

Yesterday proved that sometimes, Congress can do something good.

Rep. Bobby Scott brought the Criminal Justice Commission Act to the floor with an opening and powerful speech in support of the bill.  The bi-partisan legislation had already passed in the Senate and was now referred to the Judiciary subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security.

I searched through the C-SPAN database to find exactly what happened, so for your convenience, I have bookmarked it exactly where you need to be.  Congressman Scott does a great job at putting the right light on this issue.

http://www.c-spanarchives.org/program/ID/229319&start=30724&end=31953

(I can’t get Wordpress to embed… any tips?)

PS- Congressman Scott should do the same thing with the Industrial Hemp Farming Act HR 1866

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Tuesday, August 11th, 2009

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Hemp Seizure in Capitol Underscores Confusion Over Cannabis
Hemp Industry Seeks Beer Summit with Capitol Police

WASHINGTON, DC — Vote Hemp legislative assistant Ben Droz was shocked when Capitol Police seized his samples of industrial hemp fiber that he needed for a scheduled presentation to congressional staffers. Police refused to release the fiber after the search, while saying they knew it had no drug value and was “just hemp.” The group of officers decided they needed to confiscate all the hemp seeds because no food was allowed, but the hemp fiber was also seized even though it is not food. “I just want to throw this out,” said one officer, who ultimately did

Mr. Droz explained to police that the items were being used to illustrate the environmental properties of hemp. “This is just another example of the confusion between Industrial Hemp, an important crop for farmers across the country, and marijuana, a distant cousin also from the Cannabis family.” The United States is the only developed country that does not recognize the distinction between the two varieties. Mr. Droz admits, “I gave up the hemp to police, fearing arrest at the time, and now feel compelled to raise this issue so it does happen again because I carry hemp every time I visit the U.S. Capitol.”

“The fact that this level of confusion among law enforcement still exists today is exactly why federal policy on hemp needs to change,” says Vote Hemp President Eric Steenstra. “We hope for the return of Vote Hemp’s property, an apology, and perhaps, a Capitol Hill beer summit or Congressional hearings to discuss our differences with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).”

Hemp products have been subject to confusion in the past. In 2002, the DEA attempted to ban imports on hemp foods, despite the growing recognition of its value to farmers and consumers. Vote Hemp, the Hemp Industries Association, and several U.S. and Canadian companies, successfully challenged the DEA in a lawsuit calling the ban unwarranted and illegal. Since this ban was lifted, the hemp industry has grown substantially every year. Last year alone, grocery store sales of hemp food products grew over 40%.

Since 2005, the Industrial Hemp Farming Act (H.R. 1866) and its predecessors have waiting for a hearing in the House, but it’s been tabled the entire time. The bill has a dozen bi-partisan cosponsors, and allows states like Oregon (as of Jan. 2010), Maine, Vermont, North Dakota, Montana (and many others) to grow hemp based on State laws. Sixteen states have already passed legislation, and many, like the ones listed above, are simply waiting for the federal ban to be lifted once again. Mr. Droz has been working with Vote Hemp in order to raise congressional awareness about this marginalized issue.

The growing market proves the case of hemp. Food sales have grown every year since the ban was lifted. Other parts of the hemp plant, such as those confiscated from Droz, can be used to make any number of consumer products, while all jobs generate from the industry could be as green collar jobs.

Despite a growing global industry, U.S. farmers are still unable to grow hemp. All hemp in the U.S. must be imported from other countries to be either processed or sold here.

“It’s ironic that the very items I was using to clear up confusion, became the subject of contraband and were confiscated,” Mr. Droz comments after the incident.

# # #

Biggest day ever?

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

So, today was one of my biggest days ever.
Yesterday I had a meeting on the hill with the agricultural legislative assistant (LA) for Zack Space of Ohio. The meeting went as well as I could have expected. The staffer said that Zack Space would not be supporting HR 1866, mostly because the farmers had not already come to her to fight for hemp themselves.
Today, I talked on the phone with the director of the Ohio Farmers Union, and followed up with an email to see if we can change that.

So, after my meeting on the Hill, I started walking around. I made calls to certain offices while sitting at a bench outside the Rayburn building, telling them I would be in later that day. After a few calls, I went in for lunch in the Longworth Cafeteria.

I ran into my friend from college, Charlie Herron, who happened to place second in the national debate competition in Chicago that I attended with him. While I could have easily taken the people’s choice award (which did not exist) I did not actually place. I said to him as we ate, “Who’s the lobbyist now?!” in a sarcastically aggressive tone.

After lunch, I started going around to different offices. I stopped at many (but not all) of the offices I had just called. I would just go into an office that was particularly inviting (mostly based on State or if I knew the person’s name), introduce myself, and give them my card to forward to the agriculture LA. I did this to about 20 different offices.

I came home, changed, took a nap, walked the dog, put on my ‘party clothes’, and went out. After participating in a psychological study (and walking away with $40 cash), I went out with some friends to the ‘Froggy Bottom’, a bar with great drink specials right by the ‘Foggy Bottom’ metro stop. I met a very nice girl from Arkansas who was enjoying the last few days of her four week ‘out of Arkansas’ internship. Today was actually her 22nd birthday. She is living it up right now, I can party imagine and partly say from experience.

Today I emailed a bunch of people, canceled two meetings on the Hill, and booked another meeting with a lobbyist to talk about strategy. I talked to my boss, the president of both Vote Hemp as well as the Hemp Industries Association, for a long time on the phone. I took a ceramics class for the first time in about four years. Best of all, I got to hang out with my pseudo-supervisor, Adam Eidinger. He DJed new age house music while I sent emails to lobbyists and staff members from the Tennessee Farmer Bureau. It was such a good time that I even made a video on my phone.

This week has been so much better than my last. I can only hope that my overall enjoyment of Washington DC follows that ubiquotous exponential graph that was popularized by Al Gore.

Back In Washington

Friday, June 19th, 2009

I thought that it was time to revisit my blog after about a year of latency.
I’m back in DC and working again for Vote Hemp. The goal is to get federal recognition of industrial hemp. This is no easy task and has never been done before.

Grassroots support for hemp is notable and significant. To date, 14 states allow hemp farming, and Oregon will be the 15th state within two weeks. (SB 676 has already passed committee and is on the senate floor today). While individual states show enormous support with both constituencies and legislature, this hardly translates to the federal level.

My job is to get support for HR 1866, the third reintroduction of Ron Paul’s “Industrial Hemp Farming Act”. I have nothing against Ron Paul, but apparently, this is not the case for most politicians. Most politicians would support hemp if it were politically viable; unfortunately, at the moment, it is not.

I’ll try to keep you updated this summer. If you read this far, shoot me an email bendroz@gmail.com so that I know to keep writing….

-Ben


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