Senate Inches Closer to Hemp Farming Act

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WASHINGTON D.C.–Senate legislators this week unanimously adopted a resolution recognizing June 4-10 as Hemp History Week nationally, and lauded the economic potential of the U.S. industrial hemp industry with calls for drug policy reform.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senators Rand Paul (R-KY), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Jeff Merkley (D-OR) all praised the bipartisan action, which may signal legislators are one step closer to approving the Hemp Farming Act of 2018 (S. 2667), recently introduce by McConnell. The act would decriminalize industrial cannabis and allow U.S. farmers to plant and capitalize on many diverse markets for hemp crops.

“Since Kentucky’s earliest days, industrial hemp has played a foundational role in our agricultural history and economy,” McConnell said in an announcement. “With our Hemp Farming Act of 2018, I believe that hemp can also be an important part of our future. Removing hemp from the federal list of controlled substances will give our farm communities the opportunity to explore the potential of this versatile crop. I am proud to join with farmers, processors and manufacturers across Kentucky to celebrate Hemp History Week as we work together on the plant’s growing future.”

McConnell has also said that the hemp legislation could also be attached to a larger Farm Act that is scheduled to go to Congress.

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Wyden and Merkley both represent legal cannabis state Oregon, where officials have reported a one million pound surplus of whole plant cannabis. The glut has fueled speculation that Oregon cannabis farmers may turn to hemp–a crop that stands a better chance of decriminalization and is the source of CBD oil currently used in products from food to cosmetics, among many other industrial uses.

“While this is the third year in a row that the Senate has adopted a nonbinding resolution recognizing the value of hemp without actually legalizing it, indications this year point to the strong possibility that Congress will finally take action to change the crop’s status under federal law,” noted cannabis journalist Tom Angell wrote for Forbes.

The Senate resolution also follows a recent internal directive issued by the Drug Enforcement Administration that said specific parts of cannabis plants were not prohibited for use or sale, including sterile seeds and mature plant stems. These raw materials could potentially be used in the manufacture of CBD oil and other derivatives, while hemp seeds can also are used as a nutritional food source.

“Industrial hemp has had a long and productive history in the U.S., and it’s time to revive that history now for the 21st Century,” Merkley said simply, in the resolution’s announcement. “Outdated policies should not stand in the way of our American farmers growing a crop that is already used to make products sold all across the U.S.”

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