Hemp is used around the world for ropes and cords, clothing, paints, cooking and plastics.
But the federal government says it cannot legally be produced in the United States.
So what are states doing?
Simply adopting laws, like North Dakota’s, that not only legalize the farm practice but “expressly rejects any need for federal approval before growing hemp in the state.”
It’s part of the growing movement to nullify the federal government’s demands regarding everything from surveillance and drones to marijuana.
A new report from the Tenth Amendment Center, which focuses on state-federal issues, explains that more and more, states are resisting federal demands and requirements.
The issues recently have included the right to try experimental drugs or treatments, surveillance, hemp, the Second Amendment, the federal militarization of police, marijuana, money, Obamacare, asset forfeiture and Common Core.
“Today’s nullification movement is revolutionary because it offers the hope of smashing the established political order; an alternative to ‘voting the bums out’ – a way to support the Constitution and liberty whether the federal government wants us to or not,” said Tenth Amendment Center Executive Director Michael Boldin.
There’s a legal meaning to nullification, he said – to overturn the law. Another definition is simply to make the targeted law “of no value or consequence.”
“One might be tempted to think that there is no way to nullify without ending the force of something in law,” he wrote. “In other words, without a legislative body repealing the law, or a judge striking it down, it will still remain in full effect. But this certainly isn’t always the case.”
After all, alcohol prohibition was repealed by lawmakers to end America’s failed attempt at being a dry nation.
But that was after it was “reduced to a virtually unenforceable decree in much of the country for many reasons, including mass individual disregard of the law, along with a refusal by states to assist in its enforcement.”
Boldin notes that James Madison addressed the issue of the federal government enacting a measure that states found unacceptable.
“Should an unwarranted measure of the federal government be unpopular in particular states, which would seldom fail to be the case, or even a warrantable measure be so, which may sometimes be the case, the means of opposition to it are powerful and at hand,” Madison wrote. “The disquietude of the people; their repugnance and, perhaps, refusal to cooperate with officers of the union, the frowns of the executive magistracy of the state; the embarrassment created by legislative devices, which would often be added on such occasions, would pose, in any state, very serious impediments; and were the sentiments of several adjoining states happen to be in union, would present obstructions which the federal government would hardly be winning to encounter.”
One of the high-profile disputes now is marijuana. It remains illegal under federal law, but 19 states have legalized it for medical use. Colorado, Washington state, Oregon and Alaska also have legalized it for recreational use.
The federal government has made no serious effort to address the discrepency.
“We saw the market for marijuana significantly expand in three states this year,” the report said. “This is perhaps the most important development in the nullification of federal prohibition. By removing barriers at the state level, more people will feel comfortable participating in the market. As it expands, the feds become increasingly powerless to stop it with their limited resources.”
In the first week of limited retail sales in Oregon, dispensaries sold a staggering $11 million worth of marijuana – more than double the numbers from Colorado’s first week – “proving state laws legalizing cannabis truly do nullify federal prohibition in practice.”
In Texas, lawmakers tired of the variations of the money markets voted to set up a state gold depository.
In the controversial Common Core educational mandate, states “can nullify” it “simply by withdrawing from the program,” the report said.
“In Oregon, Gov. Kate Brown signed a bill that allows parents to opt their children out of Common Core testing for any reasons for at least the next six years,” the report said.
The center reports that nullification has moved from being a “fringe political theory” into the mainstream. Just this year, “state legislators across the country introduced close to 400 bills drafted to reject, or simply ignore, federal authority covering nearly a dozen issues.”
As a result, dozens of bills became law.
“When we call the nullification movement revolutionary, we don’t mean it in the stereotypical sense. We’re not talking about people running around with guns and pitchforks,” said the Tenth Amendment Center’s national communications director, Mike Maharrey. “This is a deeper, more philosophical revolution – a revolution in thought.”
It’s not exactly new.
One of the classic examples is slavery. Southern states adopted slave repatriation laws requiring people to ship escaping slaves back to their masters. Northern states banned the requirement.
“Those laws didn’t legally end the fugative slave acts, but they did make them nearly impossible to enforce,” the group said in a prepared statement.
Other issues that states have moved forward in defiance of federal demands are the access by patients to experimental drugs, protection against surveillance and electronic monitors.
Another significant issue is the weaponization of local police forces. The feds simply transfer ownership of military grade weapons from the military to local police forces.
Communities are responding with new laws against police departments accepting any weapons or requiring local governmental bodies to approve them before the transfers can happen.
It’s not the first time the trend has been noticed.
At the beginning of the 2015 state legislative season, the Tenth Amendment Center cited hundreds of bills that would put limits on Washington.
“Sponsored by both Democrats and Republicans, these bills range from narrowly focused legislation that would allow terminally ill people access to experimental drugs and medical treatments despite FDA regulations, to bills that would deny resources and assistance from states to the NSA. Other legislation addresses the Second Amendment, the federal prohibition of hemp and marijuana, Common Core, the use of drones for surveillance, the Affordable Care Act, and even federal grant programs that arm local police with battlefield-ready military equipment,” the center said.
Boldin has explained that a key component of the movement is the recognized principle that the federal government cannot force states to expend resources or manpower to do its work.
Already, 39 states have passed various laws attempting to exempt themselves from implementing Obamacare.