Washington, D.C. – As expected, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has introduced legislation that would remove hemp from the list of controlled substances and legalize it as an agricultural commodity.
U.S. Representatives Jaime Comer, a Kentucky Republican, and Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, have backed the legislation.
In a tweet, the lawmaker said: “It’s time the federal gov changes the way it looks at #hemp, which is why Senator @RonWyden and I, along with @SenJeffMerkley, are introducing legislation that will modernize federal law in this area & empower American farmers to explore this promising new market.”
According to a press release, the Hemp Farming Act of 2018 places federal regulatory authority of hemp with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and requires state departments of agriculture to file their hemp program plans with the USDA and regulate hemp cultivation per their state’s specific programs.
If passed, the bill would remove roadblocks to the rapidly growing hemp industry in the U.S., by authorizing and encouraging access to federal research funding for hemp, and removing restrictions on banking, water rights, and other regulatory barriers the hemp industry currently faces. The bill would also authorize crop insurance for hemp.
As WholeFoods Magazine reported last month, Sen. McConnell took the first step to support hemp in 2014 by spearheading a provision that would allow hemp to be legally produced for research. Since then, the research has shown the potential of hemp as an agricultural commodity. Kentucky then became one of the nation’s top producers, but not just anyone can grow it. Agriculture officials must approve applications to grow or process the crop.
“Hemp has played a foundational role in Kentucky’s agricultural heritage, and I believe that it can be an important part of our future,” McConnell said at the time.