Sen. McConnell wants the federal government to take hemp off its list of Schedule I controlled substances, making it legal for farmers to grow and sell the crop. Hemp comes from the same plant that produces marijuana.
Analysts forecast that if the federal ban is dropped, hemp quickly will become a multibillion-dollar industry.
“We’ve won the argument that this is not about marijuana.” — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell
McConnell efforts cleared a big hurdle Wednesday. The Senate Agriculture Committee passed the 2018 farm bill on a 20-1 vote with provisions backing the legalization of hemp.
McConnell Promises Full Farm Bill Vote
In addition, McConnell pledged that the full Senate will vote on the 2018 farm bill before its July 4 recess. The House continues to work on its version of the bill after failing to pass it in May because of disagreements on immigration reform.
“I know there are farming communities all over the country who are interested in this. Mine are particularly interested in it, and the reason for that is — as all of you know — our No. 1 cash crop used to be something that’s really not good for you: tobacco. And that has declined significantly, as it should, given the public health concerns.”
Hemp Has Long History in Kentucky
Although the fledgling hemp and marijuana industries grew during the relaxed policies of former President Barack Obama’s administration, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been less welcoming of the cannabis plant.
Federal Ban Stymies Hemp Industry
More than 30 states, including California, have passed laws making hemp production legal. But the industry has been stymied by the federal ban.