By Associated Press • 

Senate votes down hemp bill as Legislature nears adjournment

SALEM — Oregon senators on Monday voted down a bill putting a two-year hold on the development of a hemp industry, a measure that was seen as prioritizing marijuana ahead of hemp.

The bill's failure came as lawmakers work to wrap up the session and return home.

The measure was strongly supported by Oregon's marijuana industry, which is looking to expand with the rise of a legal market for recreational use of the drug. Hemp is a non-intoxicating version of the plant that produces marijuana. It has a variety of uses, including food and textiles.

Pot farmers who grow their crop outdoors fear that hemp plans will pollinate marijuana plants, reducing the drug's quality and intoxicating effects.

With the bill dead, the 13 people with permits to grow hemp can go forward with their plans, and none will have to dig up their crops.

The bill's critics said the Oregon Department of Agriculture, not lawmakers, should decide where hemp can be grown.

“I have a little bit of a concern with the Legislature getting into the business of telling farmers what crops they should produce,” said Sen. Lee Beyer, a Portland Democrat who voted against the bill. “We ought to leave it to professionals.”

Meanwhile, the Senate revived a bill that was voted down on Friday. The measure pays for a study of the best way to finance health care, but its critics worry that it's intended to get a recommendation to adopt a single-payer health care system. The government pays all the costs in such a system.

“If I honestly thought this (finding the best way to finance health care) would be objective, I'd vote for it,” said Sen. Fred Girod, R-Stayton. “I know the philosophy of the people who are pushing the bill. I know it's to push the single-payer” system.

Lawmakers first requested the study two years ago using private money, but they didn't raise enough cash.

“The study will be overseen by the Oregon Health Authority,” said Sen. Michael Dembrow, D-Portland, a sponsor of the bill. “They have pledged to keep it completely objective.”

Lawmakers also sent a variety of bills to Gov. Kate Brown. They include measures to:

— Create a hotline for strippers to report workplace violations and get advice;

— Reduce the amount of time juveniles have to wait to expunge their records of some marijuana-related crimes;

— Extend for six more years tax credits benefiting low-income workers, film producers and other groups.



As usual, AP's dubious grasp of jargon, here related to the different phenotypes of hemp, gave me a headache to read. It's all Cannabis sativa, or hemp. I prefer to write industrial or recreational hemp. "Marijuana" is a government-coined word that should be dropped faster from common usage than the northern VA battle flag.

Web Design & Web Development by LVSYS