The top Republican in the Senate, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, says his provision legalizing industrial hemp cultivation will make it into the final farm bill Senate and House negotiators are ironing out.
“They will be,” McConnell told reporters in Kentucky on Friday, according to The Hill. “If there’s a farm bill it will be in there, I guarantee you that. We’re trying right now to make sure there’s a farm bill and before the end of the year.”
McConnell has become the most powerful advocate on Capitol Hill for industrial hemp legalization over the past few years, and pushed through legalization language in the Senate version of the Farm Bill. The House version of the legislation has no such language.
According to NORML:
The hemp-specific provisions, which Sen. McConnell included in the Senate version of the bill, amend federal regulations to further expand and facilitate state-licensed hemp production, research, and commerce. The language also for the first time amends the federal Controlled Substances Act of 1970 so that industrial hemp plants containing no more than 0.3 percent THC are no longer classified as a schedule I controlled substance. (See page 1182, Section 12608: ‘Conforming changes to controlled substances act.’)
Senator McConnell previously shepherded hemp-related language (Section 7606) in the 2014 version of the Farm Bill, which permits states to establish hemp research and cultivation programs absent federal approval. A majority of states have now enacted legislation to permit such programs.
Lawmakers are seeking to finalize and pass the 2018 farm legislation prior to year’s end.
McConnell has become pro-hemp because of optimism about its potential economic impact. “I don’t want to overstate this—I don’t know if it’s going to be the next tobacco or not—but I do think it has a lot of potential,” he said, according to Marijuana Moment. “And as all of you already know, in terms of food and medicine but also car parts. I mean, it’s an extraordinary plant.”