U.S. Senate Votes to Legalize Hemp

The United States Senate has just passed a bill that would legalize hemp across the nation.

The U.S. Senate has voted to remove industrial hemp from the federal list of controlled substances, which would explicitly legalize it on the federal level. The Senate passed this by a vote of 86 to 11. The provision was introduced as part of a massive farm bill by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

McConnell stated “Consumers across America buy hundreds of millions in retail products every year that contain hemp, but due to outdated federal regulations that do not sufficiently distinguish this industrial crop from its illicit cousin, American farmers have been mostly unable to meet that demand themselves. It’s left consumers with little choice but to buy imported hemp products from foreign-produced hemp.” He continued, “”I have heard from many Kentucky farmers who agree it’s time to remove the federal hurdles and give our state the opportunity to seize its full potential and once again become the national leader for hemp production. That is why I strongly advocated for this measure to be included in the Farm Bill”

The full farm bill will now be considered by the House of Representatives.

McConnell, Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) initially introduced their hemp legislation as a stand-alone bill in April before it was included in the Senate’s farm bill.

Currently, growing hemp exists in a legal gray area. It is on the list of controlled substances, which makes it federally illegal. The 1970 controlled substance act and the 2014 farm bill contradicted each other. This bill removes it from the list of controlled substances and allows it to be sold as an agricultural commodity. The bill, which still needs to be merged with a similar House version before it can be sent to the White House to be signed into law by President Trump,  allows states to regulate hemp, allows hemp researchers to apply for grants from the Agriculture Department,  and makes hemp farmers eligible for crop insurance.

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