Monterey Bud: Hemp Has Friends in High Places, Namely the US Senate Leadership

The leader of the United States Senate continues to push hemp legislation forward.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced Friday, June 8, 2018, that he has successfully inserted legislation into the Senate’s 2018 Farm Bill, which would legalize hemp as an agricultural commodity.

“Securing the Hemp Farming Act as part of the 2018 Farm Bill has been a top priority of mine. … I look forward to continuing to work with my Senate colleagues on this and many other issues important to Kentucky agriculture as we move towards consideration of the Farm Bill,”  McConnell explained in a Friday press release.

McConnell’s hemp proposal was initially supported by Oregon Democratic Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, as well as McConnell’s fellow Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul. Introduced on April 12, 2018, the bill has since cultivated strong bipartisan support within the US Senate, with 27 co-sponsors signing on to the proposed legislation.

The bill, referred to as the Hemp Farm Act of 2018 would accomplish four primary goals:

  • Remove the fibrous plant from the federal government’s Controlled Substance Act
  • Allow hemp cultivation to be regulated by individual states as a legal agricultural commodity
  • Allow researchers to apply for competitive federal grants from the US Department of Agriculture
  • Allow hemp farmers to apply for crop insurance

“Hemp has proven itself as a job-creating growth industry with far-reaching economic potential. It’s just common sense that farmers in Oregon and across our country should be allowed to cultivate this cash crop,” Wyden noted.

Far from a done deal, the Senate’s farm bill will need to be approved by the Senate Agriculture Committee, pass both chambers of Congress, and receive a presidential signature.

McConnell, ready to turn Kentucky’s bluegrass green, noted in his recent newsletter, “by legalizing hemp and helping farmers, we can continue to see growth in new and innovative products made with Kentucky-grown hemp across our state and the nation. This is our chance to continue to help our agricultural economy and put more Kentucky-made products on the market. Kentucky’s farmers are some of the best in the world, and this legislation will give them the option to enjoy the full benefits of this versatile crop with a long and rich history in our Commonwealth.

The Hemp Farming Act of 2018 is politically potent legislation. Accomplishing what few other proposals could, the hemp bill has created a sense of unity among elected officials. And while congressional leaders don’t always agree on their legislative agendas, the majority seem to concur the federal government has no role in the regulation of hemp.

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