The Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has filed a bill to change federal laws that currently make cannabis illegal for all purposes. The bill would not legalize marijuana for recreational or medical use, it would however remove non-psychoactive cannabis or more specifically, hemp, from the Controlled Substances Act.
As marijuana and hemp begin their individual paths to market adoption; the benefits are becoming widely adopted and accepted. Let's look at some quotes, shall we? "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. — Leader McConnell (@SenateMajLdr) April 12, 2018
"We all are so optimistic that industrial hemp can become sometime in the future what tobacco was in Kentucky's past," McConnell said last month when first announcing the new bill, which he formally introduced on Thursday with a bipartisan group of cosponsors.
Glad to introduce the #HempFarmingAct. Oregon farmers should be allowed to grow the hemp that goes into the products you can buy at your local supermarket. https://t.co/CRWDmzWQv6
— Ron Wyden (@RonWyden) April 12, 2018
In addition to legalizing hemp under federal law, the Hemp Farming Act of 2018 would remove restrictions on banking access, water rights and other roadblocks that farmers and processors currently face. The U.S. Department of Agriculture would receive oversight plans from states and then state departments of agriculture would regulate local production. The bill would also make USDA research funding available to farmers and hemp plants would be eligible for crop insurance. Senator McConnell has attached language to legislation, such as the 2014 Farm Bill and spending packages that protects state industrial hemp research programs from federal interference.
There seems to be some confusion over what counts as research the interstate transportation of hemp seeds. The Food & Drug Enforcement Administration has in some cases sought to enforce federal laws that do not distinguish between hemp and marijuana. It sounds ridiculous but this type of misinterpretation needs to get cleaned up hopefully within this legislation. While hemp products such as food, clothing and other consumer goods are legal to sell in the U.S., cultivation of the plant is banned outside of the limited exemption for state research programs, so manufacturers must in many cases import the raw materials from other countries that do no prohibit hemp farming.'
It appears that this legislation will allow farmers the right to plant, grow, cultivate and overall, farm Hemp and in the process, set the foundation for what is anticipated to become a growing and widely accepted commodity.
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) joined Sen. Mitch McConnell, thus demonstrating a bi-partisan approach and acceptance to this bill. Sen. Wyden said, "it is really a milestone to have the majority leader of the Senate working with a bipartisan group of us to lift a restriction that is anti-farmer, certainly anti-consumer and anti-common sense," he said. "The only thing you're going to accomplish by smoking hemp is wasting your breath, wasting your time and wasting lighter fluid." Wyden also posted a series of tweets about his support for legalizing hemp. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), another cosponsor of the bill, said, "It’s past time that we move beyond these outdated and frustrating restrictions on hemp farming in the United States. If we’re selling hemp products in the United States, we should be growing hemp in the United States – it’s good for jobs, good for our communities, and it’s just common sense." McConnell revealed that he will soon be discussing hemp issues with U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a longtime cannabis law reform opponent.
Overall, industrial hemp has great potential to improve the agricultural economy and it appears this legislative step demonstrates that it is not a matter of if, but when Hemp is farmed and distributed throughout the domestic United States and throughout the world. This blog was inspired by the the recent articles published and covering Sen. Mitch McConnells support of industrial hemp.