Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced on Monday that he will be filing a sweeping bill to remove hemp from the Controlled Substances List, according to The Associated Press. Despite the absence of active amounts of THC in hemp, the plant remains federally classified as a drug with no medical value, as federal lawmakers have failed to distinguish between hemp and psychoactive cannabis.
“We all are so optimistic that industrial hemp can become sometime in the future what tobacco was in Kentucky’s past,” McConnell said at a Kentucky press conference.
“I will be introducing when I go back to Senate a week from today,” he said, a measure to “finally legalize hemp as an agricultural commodity and remove it from the list of controlled substances.” McConnell added that he would soon be taking up the issue with U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
The Republican’s home state of Kentucky is already known for bringing back industrial hemp with 12,000 acres planned this year and 57 hemp processors. But hemp’s classification as a drug under the Controlled Substances List forces any potential grower to obtain a federal permit.
After the implementation of 2014’s federal Farm Bill, 30 states have authorized hemp research. McConnell said that the new bipartisan measure would remove roadblocks “altogether” which would end prohibition on industrial hemp in America, once and for all.
Don’t get too excited, however. It’s important through all this to keep in perspective that NORML has given him an “F” as a grade on McConnell’s scorecard for his policies on cannabis. While in the past, McConnell has made the distinction between cannabis and heroin, he is firmly against legalizing cannabis. Hemp, apparently, is another issue.
While cannabis and hemp are classified as the same species, they have very different effects and applications. The time to legalize harmless hemp is long overdue.