Senate Majority Leader M. McConnell Brings Legislation to Legalize Hemp
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Monday announced that he will to introduce a bill to legalize hemp as an “agricultural product.”
The Hemp Farming Act of 2018 could remove federal barriers to the planting and production of hemp, and open the door for investment and researchers to apply for grants from the US Department of Agriculture, and permit for state regulation of the plant.
McConnell said on Monday, “What will it do? First and foremost, this bill will finally legalize hemp, legalize hemp as an agricultural commodity and also remove it from list of controlled substances.”
Hemp is officially characterized as cannabis which contains less than 0.3% THC, the intoxicating cannabinoid in marijuana.
Until lately, hemp was banned completely under the Controlled Substances Act, which categorizes all sorts of cannabis as a Schedule I substance.
In 2014, however, Congress passed the Agricultural Act (a.k.a. the federal farm bill) that legally defined hemp as cannabis containing “0.3 per cent THC or less,” and allowing certain countries to create pilot programs to grow small quantities of the plant. One of these states was Kentucky, the home nation of McConnell.
That pilot job cleared up confusion regarding the difference between hemp and higher-THC cousin.
“In 2014, in getting the pilot project option in the farm bill, there was a lot of discussion about what is this. Is this the same as its distant cousin? I think we’ve moved past that. I think most members of the Senate now understand it’s two very different plans. There may be some continued discussion of that. But I think most everybody … now understands this is a totally different plant.”
During the pilot program run by Kentucky’s Department of Agriculture, the nation has gone from zero Hemp production into 12,000 a cres in less than four years.
Researchers at the University of Louisville began reaping the harvest on campus at 2016 to study its use as a biofuel and energy source The results of the program have been positive, and contributed to the manufacture of products that McConnell seemingly had a chance to check out past weekend.
“I just had an opportunity to see some interesting and innovative products, some of which you see here on the table, made with Kentucky-grown hemp,” he said at the US Hemp Roundtable in Frankfort on Monday. “Sunstrand, based in Louisville, contracts with farmers in Henry County to grow hemp that they process into a number of consumer products, including home insulation.”
The state’s senior senator seemed quite taken with the commercial prospects of home-state hemp, which he said was different than its “illegal cousin”:
“Imagine, rather than pink fiberglass we could use Kentucky-grown, environmentally renewable hemp to jumpstart our houses. This represents just one many applications that Kentuckians are discovering for this flexible crop.”
Medical marijuana patients, especially those finding relief through using CBD, may find a largely expanded array of products available if hemp were to be legalized nationwide.
In Kentucky, as an instance, Kings Royal Biotech, a company which develops medical-grade CBD from hemp, broke ground on a brand new 75,000-square-foot facility in the Carlisle County city of Bardwell on March 15. The business is expected to make 140 fulltime work in the West Kentucky farming community. Kings Royal hopes to start processing locally grown hemp in overdue 2018, and ramp up to full capacity by mid-2019.
“Industrial hemp is the next big thing in Kentucky,” Keith Taylor, chief operating officer at KRB, said at the groundbreaking ceremony. “The bourbon industry is synonymous with the state, and it is our goal to reach that level of success, where any time someone thinks of hemp-related products, they think of Kentucky.”