Legislation to be introduced by U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would see hemp recognised as an agricultural commodity and removed from the federal list of controlled substances.
While the Hemp Farming Act of 2018 has been designed by Senator McConnell and Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture Ryan Quarles to benefit the pair’s home state in the first instance, if successfully passed, it will have major implications nationwide.
“This legislation also will remove the federal barriers in place that have stifled the industry, which will help expand the domestic production of hemp,” states a release from the Senator’s office. “It will also give hemp researchers the chance to apply for competitive federal grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture – allowing them to continue their impressive work with the support of federal research dollars.”
That hemp remains on the list of controlled substances due to it being related to marijuana (and incorrectly classified as such) has been a thorn in the side of the U.S. industrial hemp industry for years. Given the very low levels of THC (an intoxicating cannabinoid) in industrial hemp, it has absolutely zero value as a recreational drug.
However, industrial hemp has a huge value in other respects; with myriad applications in medicine, agriculture, textiles, food, general manufacturing and even as fuel.
Senator McConnell says he plans to introduce the bill in the Senate along with Senator Rand Paul and a bipartisan group of members following this state work period – and possibly as soon as next week.
“Hemp has played a foundational role in Kentucky’s agricultural heritage, and I believe that it can be an important part of our future,” Senator McConnell said.
The U.S. Hemp Roundtable has applauded the Senator, noting he is one of the most powerful politicians in the country.
“By endorsing hemp legalization so passionately and so publicly, Leader McConnell encourages some Congressmen to take a new look at the issue; he gives other Congressmen cover to do what they already thought was the right thing,” said Roundtable General Counsel, Jonathan Miller.
The Senator hasn’t just recently jumped on the hemp bandwagon. He was among the architects of provision to legalise hemp pilot programs in the 2014 Farm Bill.
Back in his home state, its revived hemp industry is moving along. In January we reported the Kentucky Department of Agriculture had approved hundreds of applications from growers for the state’s pilot program, who will be permitted to cultivate up to 12,018 acres in total of the crop this growing season.