Today marks a monumental day for the American Farmer and the American economy. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell introduced the Hemp Farming Act of 2018, a “milestone agreement working with a bi-partisan effort,” Leader McConnell said.
The bill will finally remove hemp from the Controlled Substances Act as a Schedule I Narcotic.
Both Senator McConnell (R-KY) and Senator Wyden (D-OR) introduced the bill on the floor of the Senate today and specified a companion bill to be introduced by Rep Jamie Comer (R-KY) in the House of Representatives. The bill will open production of agricultural hemp for farmers across America operating within the guidance of their State. The bill also provides essential crop insurance and federal banking for the crop, which have been massive hurdles for sustainably and responsibly growing the industry during the research phase of the Hemp Pilot Program.
Senate Leader McConnell met with Kentucky farmers and processors during his press conference in March and found a unique atmosphere of hemp pilot program participants in the room. Traditionally, the demographic of farmers today are often over 60 years of age, but Senator McConnell found that hemp has reignited youth into the American farmer. “There are a lot of young, enthusiastic farmers” he said, there is “genuine enthusiasm of what this could mean to reinvigorate a rural economy in Kentucky” said Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
“As the tobacco industry has changed, some farmers in states like Kentucky have been searching for a new crop that can support their families and grow our agricultural economy. Many believe they have found such a product, industrial hemp, but the federal government has stood in the way. Mr. President it’s time to change that.”
Hemp has been regulated with marijuana since the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 and when the Controlled Substances Act passed in 1970, hemp continued to be mixed into marijuana as a Schedule I Narcotic, in the same drug category as heroin.
Meanwhile, developed nations across the world loosened controls over hemp production in the early 1990s, leaving the United States as the last developed nation with extreme federal prohibition against growing and processing hemp products. Over the last decade the United States has imported over $600million annually of legal hemp products, when American farmers could have been benefiting from the cash crop.
The 2014 Farm Bill opened hemp production for research purposes and at pilot scales within states with Hemp Pilot Programs intact. In 2017 Kentucky paid over $7million to farmers and over $30million to processors for hemp-derived products, not to mention hundreds of jobs that have been created in the process.
“This is long overdue” said Senator Wyden, a co-sponsor of the bill. Wyden is excited to see the bi-partisan support for this bill and believes it is “an impressive coalition of farmers and health advocates.” He was happy to see that “the Senate has finally come to see what is relevant for this century.”