US Senate wants to legalize industrial hemp

Saul Bowman
March 29, 2018

Unlike marijuana, hemp does not have a large amount of THC, the compound that causes a users high, and it can be used to make a variety of products from rope to milk, something McConnell says makes it a crop worth legalizing.

McConnell plans to introduce the bill in the Senate following the state work period. Sen.

While removing hemp from the controlled substances list would mean cultivators would no longer need a federal permit, the Hemp Farming Act of 2018 would still give the federal Agriculture Department oversight over states' hemp production programs, according to information released by McConnell's office. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) will co-sponsor the bill, which is also backed by a bipartisan group of lawmakers, McConnell said.

Brian Furnish is an eighth-generation tobacco farmer from Cynthiana and one of the first to legally grow hemp after the 2014 rules went into effect. Kentucky once had more tobacco farmers than any other state, but McConnell helped wean them off tobacco in 2004 with a bill that ended federal support for the crop and compensated them for their federal production quotas.

A non-flowering variant of the cannabis plant, hemp has hundreds of potential commercial uses, including food, fuel, biodegradable plastic, paint and clothing.

"We're going to give it everything we've got to pull it off", the Senate's top leader told hemp advocates in his home state. "I am proud to stand here with him today, because I believe that we are ready to take the next step and build upon the successes we've seen with Kentucky's hemp pilot program".

There are at least two species of cannabis, the scientific name of the plant; "hemp" and "marijuana" describe the crops produced from the plants.

In Pennsylvania, the Department of Agriculture in February approved 39 research projects that will allow cultivation of about 1,000 acres of marijuana's non-psychoactive cousin.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles (R), on Monday announced a plan to introduce legislation in the US Senate to support Kentucky's hemp industry.

"I think we've worked our way through the education process of making sure everybody understands this is really a different plant", the Republican leader said. There's much broader understanding now that hemp is a "totally different" plant than its illicit cousin, he said. Since it passed, Kentucky's hemp industry has been booming. The Trump administration has taken a tougher stance on marijuana.

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