House And Senate Ag Leaders: We’ve Reached Agreement In Principle On 2018 Farm Bill

MJLegal

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: House and Senate Agriculture Committee Chairmen Mike Conaway (R-Texas) and Pat Roberts (R- Kan.) and Ranking Members Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) made the following announcement today on the state of 2018 Farm Bill negotiations:

“We’re pleased to announce that we’ve reached an agreement in principle on the 2018 Farm Bill. We are working to finalize legal and report language as well as CBO scores, but we still have more work to do. We are committed to delivering a new farm bill to America as quickly as possible.”

First Ever Veterans-Focused Medical Bill Introduced In Senate

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Senators Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Brian Schatz (D-HI) on Wednesday introduced legislation, The Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act, to expand and facilitate medical cannabis access to military veterans suffering from chronic pain, PTSD, and other serious medical conditions.

Under existing regulations, VA doctors are not permitted to fill out the mandatory paperwork necessary to recommend cannabis therapy in those 31 states that regulate it. Passage of The Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act ends this discrimination against veterans and prevents sanctions against VA doctors who wish to recommend medical cannabis treatment to their patients. The Act also encourages the Veterans Administration to promulgate medical cannabis research, and appropriates funding for scientific studies.

A recent American Legion poll found that nearly one in four veterans use marijuana to alleviate a medical condition. A 2017 review of over 10,000 studies by the National Academy of Sciences concluded, “There is conclusive or substantial evidence that cannabis and cannabinoids are effective for the treatment for chronic pain in adults.”

Similar legislation, The Veterans Equal Access Act (HR 1820) is pending in the House. You can contact your federal lawmakers in support of both of these bills using the NORML Action Alert.


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

Senate Passes Farm Bill, Which Includes Senator McConnell’s Hemp Farming Act

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced today the Senate passed the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (Farm Bill), which takes serious steps to ensure the future of American agriculture. A conference committee made up with members from both chambers will now reconcile the Senate and House versions of the Farm Bill.

The Senate Farm Bill strengthens the safety measures that directly help commodity producers as they confront low prices and the constant threat of natural disasters. It also seizes on a number of opportunities to invest in the future of American agriculture and rural communities. It contains a provision – championed by Senator McConnell — that would empower farmers to begin cultivating industrial hemp, a crop that could play a key role in the economic future of Kentucky and the nation. It also focuses on expanding rural broadband and water infrastructure and continuing the fight against the opioid epidemic is devastating rural America.

“As the proud senior Senator from the Commonwealth of Kentucky who has served on the Agriculture Committee since my first day in the Senate, I know exactly how important this legislation is to agricultural communities. From soybeans and corn to hay and tobacco to poultry and livestock, Kentucky agriculture encompasses a multi-billion-dollar industry that supports thousands and thousands of good jobs in nearly every corner of the Commonwealth,” Senator McConnell said. “Kentuckians know as well as anyone just how important American agriculture is — and we understand as well as anyone all the unique challenges that it faces. That is why I proudly supported this bill, which will bolster programs supporting our producers.”

“Today’s passage of the Senate version of the Farm Bill takes farm families here in Kentucky and across the country one step closer to the certainty they need to survive such a tough agricultural economy,” said Kentucky Farm Bureau President Mark Haney. “I would like to thank Senator McConnell on his extensive efforts to move forward the single most important piece of legislation affecting agriculture and rural communities. He continually works to help an industry that is so crucial to every citizen in this country, as well as our neighbors across the world who depend heavily on the success of the American farmer.”

The Senate Farm Bill also includes Senator McConnell’s measure (The Hemp Farming Act of 2018) to legalize hemp as an agricultural commodity by removing it from the federal list of controlled substances. It also gives states the opportunity to become the primary regulators of hemp production, allows hemp researchers to apply for competitive federal grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and makes hemp farmers eligible to apply for crop insurance.

“Last year alone, Kentucky hemp recorded more than $16 million in product sales through the state pilot program I previously secured, demonstrating that hemp holds great potential for the future of Kentucky agriculture,” Senator McConnell added. “For far too long, the federal government has prevented most farmers from growing hemp. Although it was a foundational part of Kentucky’s heritage and today you can buy hemp products at stores across the country, most American farmers have been barred from planting it in their fields. I have heard from many Kentucky farmers who agree it’s time to remove the federal hurdles and give our state the opportunity to seize its full potential and once again become the national leader for hemp production. That is why I strongly advocated for this measure to be included in the Farm Bill, which will finally and fully legalize industrial hemp.”

“For farmers across America, there is no piece of legislation more important than the Farm Bill,” saidKentucky Commissioner of Agriculture Ryan Quarles. “I am particularly excited to see that the full text of Leader McConnell’s Hemp Farming Act of 2018 made it into this bipartisan bill. This Farm Bill will allow state departments of agriculture, like Kentucky’s, to unleash the full economic potential of industrial hemp pilot programs. I applaud Leader McConnell for his tireless advocacy for Kentucky farmers.”

In collaboration with agriculture leaders in Kentucky and throughout the nation, Senator McConnell utilized his position as Senate Majority Leader to secure language in the 2014 Farm Bill to authorize hemp research pilot programs. He built on that success with federal legislation to ensure that hemp produced from the pilot program could be transported, processed, and marketed. Under the guidance of Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles and his predecessor, now-U.S. Representative James Comer (KY-1), these programs have allowed Kentucky farmers to both research the plant and to demonstrate its potential. Representative Comer is leading the effort on this issue in the House of Representatives.

Senate OKs Bill Changing Tax Structure Of Marijuana Law

WASHINGTON:  The Senate has passed a bill that removes the excise tax on producers and processors of recreational marijuana and instead imposes the tax only on retail sales.

Senate Bill 6062 passed on a 26-22 vote in the early morning hours of Friday and now heads to the House for consideration. Under the measure, the retail sales tax rate would be 37 percent.

A bulk of the tax would be distributed to the general fund, with the remainder going to an education fund. Of the amount going to the general fund, $6 million would be distributed to local governments.

 

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.”