Suddenly prominent conservative and liberal lawmakers alike are backing federal cannabis and hemp bills. Most recently, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced his intentions to add hemp legislation into the next Farm Bill.
On March 26, McConnell introduced a bill to deschedule hemp, and on April 24, announced on the radio that he is pushing to add that legislation to the 2018 Farm Bill. The Farm Bill is sweeping legislation that defines food and agriculture policy in the United States.
“Hemp could end up in your car’s dashboard. It could end up in your food,” McConnell told WKDZ. “It could end up in your medicine. It has many diverse potential uses, and we’re optimistic it could be very significant for Kentucky agriculture.” McConnell served as the senior United States Senator from Kentucky, going back to 1985. The production of hemp in Kentucky dates back to pioneer times, and has recently resumed thanks to loosening cannabis and hemp laws.
With tobacco falling out of favor in recent years, some Kentucky farmers have no other option other than resorting to growing cannabis. McConnell mentioned in the interview that he wasn’t sure if hemp will be as profitable as tobacco.
McConnell is optimistic that the legislation will be included in the Farm Bill next month. The House Agriculture Committee approved a version of the Farm Bill last week, and the House is expected to visit the measure in mid-May, without the hemp provision. In 2014, McConnell included provisions in that year’s Farm Bill to allow some entities to grow hemp for research or marketing purposes, but the plant remains federally banned.
While the success of the Farm Bill is uncertain because of welfare provisions, McConnell’s approval gives it a much better chance at passing. McConnell’s version of the Farm Bill would include his standalone bill and remove hemp from the Controlled Substances List, once and for all.