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Hemp Legalization Clears Major Hurdle


Hemp legalization is part of a final Farm Bill up for Congressional authorization.

The defeat of hardline Republicans’ efforts to make it harder for financially-strapped families to get food aid is good news for the hemp industry.

House and Senate negotiators have cleared a version of the Farm Bill that scraps House Republicans’ plan to add work requirements for food stamps an includes a Senate provision broadly legalizing hemp cultivation. According to the Washington Post:

The House and Senate have been deadlocked over multiple issues in the bill, including provisions in the House bill that would add new work requirements for older food stamp recipients and for parents of children age 6 and older.

But those provisions have been stripped in the compromise package, Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, confirmed Thursday.

The farm bill deal was confirmed Thursday by House and Senate lawmakers from both parties. If finalized, it would break a months-long congressional impasse over legislation that doles out billions of federal dollars in food aid, agriculture subsidies and conservation funds.

The final version of the measure will include language that ends the federal prohibition on growing industrial hemp. Cultivation of the plant had previously been limited by federal law. Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader, pushed for legalization, arguing that it could be a boon to farmers.

According to The Verge:

This is “a pretty important step forward in terms of federal government’s recognition of what CBD is and what its lack of potential harm or risk is,” says John Hudak, a senior fellow at Brookings Institution and author of Marijuana: A Short History. There are likely to be more CBD products now, but that still doesn’t mean that everyone can just grow hemp in their backyard. Farmers will no longer need DEA approval, but there will still be significant federal and state restrictions on hemp products and growers will need to be licensed and fulfill other requirements developed by the US Department of Agriculture. “It’s not going to be this free-for-all that some people imagine,” Hudak says.

Proponents of legalizing hemp argue that it provides an opportunity for new jobs and economic growth, especially because hemp is a versatile plant that can grow in various climates. For example, Kentucky — the state of Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who sponsored the hemp provision — is one of the best places to grow the plant. “Kentuckians think that this could help replace coal miner jobs in eastern Kentucky and could jump start local economies that have really suffered as economic transition has happened,” Hudak says.

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