Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) on Friday announced securing into a farm bill language that would legalize industrial hemp as an agricultural commodity, removing it from the list of controlled substances.
The Hemp Farming Act of 2018 is part of the comprehensive farm bill, which will be officially considered next week by the Senate Agriculture Committee. McConnell worked with Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kansas) to ensure the hemp language was included.
“Securing the Hemp Farming Act as part of the 2018 Farm Bill has been a top priority of mine,” McConnell said in a statement in a news release.
The hemp industry has blamed the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) for causing disruptions to businesses growing, cultivating and marketing hemp under state industrial hemp pilot programs authorized under Section 7606 of the Agricultural Act of 2014, otherwise known as the farm bill.
“Our bipartisan legislation strikes America’s outdated anti-hemp laws from the books so American consumers can buy products made with hemp grown in America,” said Sen. Roy Wyden (D-Oregon), the lead Democratic sponsor of the Hemp Farming Act of 2018, in a statement.
Several sources lobbying for passage of the hemp legislation said the bill would clearly convey DEA has no authority over hemp.
“It would take DEA out of the picture,” proclaimed Jonathan Miller, general counsel to the U.S. Hemp Roundtable, in an interview in March with Natural Products INSIDER. “For any hemp crops or products that are less than .3 percent THC [delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol], they would no longer be subject to the Controlled Substances Act or the involvement of the Drug Enforcement Administration.”
The bill “also gives states the opportunity to become the primary regulators of hemp production, allows hemp researchers to apply for competitive federal grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and makes hemp farmers eligible to apply for crop insurance,” McConnell’s office noted.