Will The Senate Finally Legalize Hemp This Year?

For the third year in a row, the U.S. Senate has unanimously signed on to a resolution recognizing hemp’s economic potential and historical relevance. The proclamation written by lawmakers takes the time to point out the lost opportunities for American farmers.

"Despite the legitimate uses of hemp, many agricultural producers of the United States are prohibited under current law from growing hemp,” reads the Senate proclamation. “Because most hemp cannot be grown legally in the United States, raw hemp material, and hemp products are imported for sale in the United States.”

But that looks likely to change very soon as nearly one-third of all senators signed on as co-sponsors to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s hemp bill. And McConnell has voiced his intention to insert the language into the upcoming Farm Bill, as he did in 2014 with hemp research legislation, giving it a high probability of making its way to President Trump's desk.

McConnell’s bill, The Hemp Farming Act of 2018, would remove hemp from the controlled substances list, effectively legalizing it as an agricultural commodity. The bill has been streamlined through the Senate by McConnell, with the Republican majority leader invoking Rule 14 which allows legislation to skip committee hearings and go straight to the floor for a vote.

Forbes contributor and chairman of Marijuana Majority, Tom Angell, pointed out recently that while McConnell is “among the foremost champions for hemp in all of Congress, the Kentucky Republican is no fan of legalizing its cannabis cousin, marijuana.” Angell also points out that while the United States is the largest consumer of hemp products in the world, it’s the only major industrialized nation that restricts hemp farming.

Currently, a number of lobbying groups are calling for the de-scheduling of hemp, including the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, and the National Conference of State Legislatures, among others.

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