Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has officially filed his promised hemp farming bill on Thursday. This bill, if passed, would legalize the cultivation of hemp and remove the plant from the list of controlled substances banned under federal law. The move would make good on McConnell’s promise to farmers who view hemp as a potentially lucrative crop.
The full text of the Hemp Farming Act of 2018 was released shortly after the senator, joined by co-sponsors Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR), announced the bill during a speech on the Senate floor Thursday.
“During the recent state work period, I talked to a number of farmers, manufacturers, and small business owners who expressed enthusiasm for hemp’s potential, and I was proud to stand with Kentucky’s Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles to announce the impending introduction of this bill,” McConnell said in a press release.
“By legalizing hemp and empowering states to conduct their own oversight plans, we can give the hemp industry the tools necessary to create jobs and new opportunities for farmers and manufacturers around the county.”
What Is Hemp?
While hemp is a member of the cannabis family, it’s distinguished by low-levels of THC—the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis—in addition to other distinct physical features. But current federal laws have failed to account for those distinctions, and so the crop has been listed as a Schedule 1 drug under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).
If Passed, What Would This Bill Accomplish?
The Hemp Farming Act of 2018 would lift the ban on hemp at the federal level, enabling farmers to legally cultivate hemp.
“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,” Forbes‘ Tom Angell reported. “The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) would receive oversight plans from states, and then state departments of agriculture would regulate local production.”
What’s more, the legislation would free up the USDA to offer research grants and crop insurance for hemp cultivators in the country—benefits that have been restricted under existing federal law.
Final Hit: Mitch McConnell Has Officially Filed His Promised Hemp Farming Bill
It’s legal to purchase hemp-based products in the United States, such as cosmetics and topical creams, but the hemp included in these products cannot be legally cultivated in the country as federal law currently stands. Because of the plant’s versatility, there are a number of industries that don’t want hemp legalized.
By removing hemp from the federal list of banned substances, cultivators may be able to finally tap into a growing and profitable market.
“It’s past time that we move beyond these outdated and frustrating restrictions on hemp farming in the United States,” bill co-sponsor Merkley said in a press release. “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.”