Senate Majority Leader: Farm Bill Will Lift Federal Hemp Ban

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) reaffirmed on Friday that provisions lifting the federal prohibition of hemp will be included in the engrossed language of H.R. 2: The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (aka the 2018 Farm Bill). The must-pass legislation is currently being debated by leadership in conference committee.

“If there’s a Farm Bill, it’ll be in there. I guarantee that,” McConnell told reporters. He added: “I don’t want to overstate this – I don’t know if it’s going to be the next tobacco or not – but I do think it has a lot of potential. And as all of you already know, in terms of food and medicine but also car parts. I mean, it’s an extraordinary plant.”

The hemp-specific provisions, which Sen. McConnell included in the Senate version of the bill, amend federal regulations to further expand and facilitate state-licensed hemp production, research, and commerce. The language also for the first time amends the federal Controlled Substances Act of 1970 so that industrial hemp plants containing no more than 0.3 percent THC are no longer classified as a schedule I controlled substance. (See page 1182, Section 12608: ‘Conforming changes to controlled substances act.’)

Senator McConnell previously shepherded hemp-related language (Section 7606) in the 2014 version of the Farm Bill, permitting states to establish hemp research and cultivation programs absent federal approval. A majority of states have now enacted legislation to permit such programs.

Lawmakers are seeking to finalize and pass the 2018 farm legislation prior to year’s end.

For more information, contact Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director, at (202) 483-5500.


US Senate Majority Leader McConnell introduces Hemp Farming Act 2018

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: “It’s a historic day in America for the hemp industry”, said Geoff Whaling, Chairman of the National Hemp Association. “Senators McConnell, Wyden, Paul and Merkley have introduced a bi-partisan Senate Bill that not only raises awareness about the potential of this crop, it puts our industry in a position to meet its full potential”.

After months of work with Congress, the Hemp Farming Act of 2018 was introduced on the floor of the U.S. Senate this morning. The Bill accurately addresses the challenges that State Departments of Agriculture, Institutes of Higher Learning, Researchers and Farmers have had in the implementation of the provisions of Section 7606 of the 2014 Farm Bill.

The Hemp Farming Act identifies hemp as a crop and gives this commodity all of the benefits that are now available to other grains under USDA. The Bill removes hemp from the controlled substance act, which will allow farmers and manufacturers to freely sell all goods and products produced from the hemp crop, across state lines with no fear of challenges imposed by the DEA or banking institutions. The Bill also identifies hemp as both food and feed and will provide farmers interested in growing the crop the same crop insurance afforded other commodities crops.

“The United States is the largest importing nation of industrial hemp products in the world and the only importing nation not to have a national policy. That translates into millions of dollars of products coming into the united States and we think those jobs and opportunities should be here for our farmers and manufacturers. The Hemp Farming Act changes all of that”, said Whaling.

36 states have adopted legislation to begin researching hemp, a provision provided via the 2014 Farm Bill. Under the Hemp Farming Act, USDA will work with States to develop regulations.

“We applauded Senator McConnell, Wyden, Paul and Merkley for their leadership on this bi-partisan issue and look forward to working with all Senators so to pass this Bill this session.”


You can view the Senate floor discussion here:


Mitch McConnell’s Love Affair with Hemp

KENTUCKY: Last May, a shipment of 250 pounds of hemp seeds left Italy destined for Kentucky as part of a pilot project made legal by the 2014 federal farm bill. Kentucky farmers had long hoped for a crop that could fill the void left by the decline of tobacco, and many thought that industrial hemp, which is used in a vast array of products, could be that crop.

The hemp seeds cleared customs in Chicago, but when the cargo landed at the UPS wing of Louisville International Airport, the Drug Enforcement Administration seized it, arguing that importing hemp seeds required an import permit, which could take six months to process. If farmers couldn’t get those seeds into the ground by June 1, the entire first year of the hemp pilot program would be dashed.

The DEA would have succeeded in blocking the seeds from reaching Kentucky farmers and university researchers but for the efforts of the state’s agricultural commissioner, who sued the agency and, most improbably, Mitch McConnell.

McConnell—then the Senate’s minority leader—worked furiously to free the seeds from the DEA’s clutches and continued the pro-hemp drumbeat throughout 2014, as he campaigned for reelection. This year, as Senate majority leader, he’s taken a further step by co-sponsoring the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2015.

Senate Takes Bipartisan Shot At Drug Enforcement Administration

WASHINGTON – The Senate Appropriations Committee voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to block efforts by the Drug Enforcement Administration to crack down on hemp, following the DEA’s recent action against the state of Kentucky.

An amendment co-sponsored by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), who both represent states with farmers interested growing hemp crops, cruised through the powerful spending committee on a 22-8 vote.

Congress legalized hemp for research purposes earlier this term, but the DEA argued that the law had not made it legal to import seeds, and subsequently seized a delivery bound for Kentucky’s Department of Agriculture, leading to a drawn-out public battle.

“This measure will help prevent our legal hemp seeds secured by state Departments of Agriculture and used for legal pilot programs from being blocked by DEA or other federal agencies in the future,” McConnell said. “These legal pilot programs authorized by my legislation could help boost our state’s economy and lead to future jobs.”

Hemp Seeds Could Be In Kentucky Hands By weekend

KENTUCKY:  Federal officials could release a 250-pound shipment of hemp seeds to Kentucky by the end of the week, according to a spokeswoman for Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer.

The shipment arrived in Louisville last week, but the Drug Enforcement Agency told Comer his department would have to apply for a Schedule I controlled substance researcher license to gain possession it, which could take five months, said Holly Harris VonLuehrte, Comer’s chief of staff.

But on Tuesday, the agency backed off as Comer threatened legal action in federal court, VonLuehrte said. The DEA told Comer that his department would still need a permit but the application process could be expedited, she said.

VonLuehrte said Tuesday evening that Kentucky officials could have the seeds, which were shipped from Italy, by the end of the week.

“We started to rattle the cage,” she said of Tuesday’s discussions with the DEA.

Hemp Supporters Rally In Washington, Conway Wants Discussion With Ag Commissioner

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA:  Hemp supporters will rally in Washington D.C. today.

Members of Vote Hemp and other groups are descending on the nation’s capital for Hemp Lobby Day to convince Congress to lift a federal ban on the plant for industrial use.

Earlier this year Kentucky lawmakers approved the research and cultivation of hemp, but it has yet to be implemented because the federal government still considers the crop a controlled substance. The dilemma has pitted two potential gubernatorial candidates against one another: Hemp supporter and state Agricultural Commissioner James Comer, and Attorney General Jack Conway. [Read more…]

Legalize It: Will We See a Hemp Farm Bill?

TENNESSEE: As stupid as it is that marijuana is illegal — and that’s pretty damn stupid — it’s even stupider that hemp is illegal. Did we make Sterno illegal just because people drank it? No. So why make hemp illegal just because people will smoke it? [Read more…]