Senators urge Bureau of Reclamation to update marijuana policy

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The lawmakers don’t want the federal shutdown to stall legislation

The 2018 Farm Bill opened the doors to hemp farming across the country. However, the current federal government shutdown, now in its 28th day, closed them almost as quickly. Despite the continued infighting at the top levels of the government, Congressmen are pushing at least one department to move forward with creating policies to help the hemp industry to advance.

The shutdown has forced virtually all federal departments to halt their operations. The lawmakers are calling on the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) to not let the action prevent it from working on its responsibilities to help farmers gain access to water in order to grow their crops.

Two Senators, Colorado’s Michael Bennet and Montana’s Jon Tester, sent a letter to the head of the BOR, Brenda Burman, this week in which they requested that the agency update its policy to bring it in line with the Farm Bill. Currently, because of previous legislation, hemp farmers did not have access to federally-controlled water, a situation the Senators hope will be corrected.

They said in their letter that the ban on the water “hindered research, created economic hardships for the affected producers, and led to uncertainty across the West. We request that the BOR act quickly to update its policies to ensure hemp producers can access their water.” They further added, “Hemp is a versatile commodity that can be used in a wide range of products including paper, fabric, and biodegradable plastic. Its cultivation will allow farmers to diversify crops in rural states like Montana and Colorado.”

However, without access to proper water facilities, that cultivation won’t take place, stagnating the industry and keeping hundreds, if not thousands, of farmers from being able to earn a living.