Several members of Congress have submitted a formal request that the U.S. Botanic Garden include hemp plants in its display.
The United States Botanic Garden (USBG) was established by Congress in 1820 and is the oldest continuously operating botanic garden in the country. Covering 150 acres, it host tens of thousands of plants, some of them rare.
Missing from its collection is hemp. While in the past this may have been due to its previous legal status, hemp was fully legalized for commercial production in the 2018 Farm Bill. While both forms of cannabis, hemp is distinguished from marijuana based on levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), with hemp required to contain no more than 0.3% THC.
Given the change in its legal standing, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) recently sent a letter to USBG’s Executive Director requesting the Garden display hemp plants.
Noting that some domestically grown hemp is being utilised for the extraction of cannabidiol (CBD), they have suggested the plants may be ideally located in the Botanic Garden “medicinal plants” section, where more than a hundred species of herbs and plants are on display.
“This is a diverse collection with many complex considerations for determining which plants are included,” states USBG. “Plants defined as medicinal are either those used historically or as the original source for prescription, over-the-counter, or herbal remedies.”
It notes plants may be maintained in this collection if they meet the following criteria:
- published in authoritative sources with the bioactive compound identified;
- identified through primary or secondary literature as having ethnobotanical importance;
- or are identified by current researchers or primary literature as having potential for clinical or therapeutic effectiveness.
So, hemp fits that criteria well. It also has strong historical importance in the USA, dating back hundreds of years when not only was it legal, farmers were encouraged and at times compelled to grow the crop – but primarily for food and fibre purposes.
“Given that hemp is legal and enjoys national, bipartisan support, now is an appropriate time for the Botanic Garden to display hemp plants,” wrote the members of Congress, who have requested a reply from USBG by May 4.