hemp, cannabis

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will introduce legislation to boot hemp from the controlled substances list and legalize it as an agricultural commodity under the Hemp Farming Act of 2018, he announced this week.

Sen. McConnell joined Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles (R) for the Monday announcement during the U.S. Hemp Roundtable in Frankfort, Kentucky, CBS affiliate WKYT reported Monday. Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Rand Paul (R-KY) are reportedly co-sponsoring the bill.

“Hemp has played a foundational role in Kentucky’s agriculture heritage, and I believe that it can be an important part of our future,” Sen. McConnell said in a statement. He also took to Twitter on Monday to tweet the news, hashtagging both Kentucky and hemp.

Sen. McConnell’s home state of Kentucky is currently conducting a hemp research pilot program that “seeks to build a body of knowledge on hemp agronomics that will lay a solid foundation for a thriving industry should hemp be removed from the federal government’s list of controlled substances,” with the Kentucky Department of Agriculture citing “intense interest and enthusiasm” as reason for the program.

The 2014 federal Farm Bill allowed state agricultural departments to pilot research programs such as the one currently underway in Kentucky. The Washington Post reported Monday that more than 30 states have authorized such programs. As WKYT noted, the bill’s passing would empower individual states with regard to hemp laws.

“We are laying the groundwork for a new commodity market for Kentucky farmers,” Sen. McConnell told Politico in 2015. “And by exploring innovative ways to use industrial hemp to benefit a variety of Kentucky industries, the pilot programs could help boost our state’s economy and lead to future jobs.”

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