McConnell introduces the Hemp Farming Act of 2018

By Erin Voegele | April 17, 2018

On April 12, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., introduced the Hemp Farming Act of 2018, bipartisan legislation that aims to legalize and clearly define hemp as an agricultural commodity and remove it from the list of controlled substances.

A statement released by McConnell explains that the bill, S. 2267, gives states the opportunity to become the primary regulators of hemp. It also allows hemp researchers to apply for competitive federal grants from the USDA and makes hemp farmers eligible to apply for crop insurance.

To date, Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore.; Jeff Merkley, D-Ore.; and Paul Rand, R-Ky., have signed on to cosponsor the bill. On April 16, the bill was read a second time and placed on the Senate Legislative Calendar.

Also on April 12, Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., introduced companion legislation, H.R. 5485, in the U.S. House of Representatives. To date, Rep. Jared Polis, D-Co., has cosponsored the bill. Following its introduction, H.R. 5485 was referred to the Committee on Agriculture, the Committee on Energy and Commerce and the Judiciary Committee.

Hemp is currently used to make a variety of products, including rope, paper, clothing, and textiles. It also has potential for use as a biofuel and bioenergy feedstock.

“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. “Today, with my colleagues, I am proud to introduce the bipartisan Hemp Farming Act of 2018, which will build upon the success of the hemp pilot programs and spur innovation and growth within the industry. 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.”

“It is far past time for Congress to pass this commonsense, bipartisan legislation to end the outrageous anti-hemp, anti-farmer and anti-jobs stigma that’s been codified into law and is holding back growth in American agriculture jobs and our economy at large,” Wyden said. “Hemp products are made in this country, sold in this country and consumed in this country. Senator McConnell, our colleagues and I are going to keep pushing to make sure that if Americans can buy hemp products at the local supermarket, American farmers can grow hemp in this country.”

Merkley added, “It’s past time that we move beyond these outdated and frustrating restrictions on hemp farming in the United States. 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.”