McConnell’s Hemp Bill Fast-Tracked To Senate Floor

By Benjie Cooper

IG: @nuglifenews

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Fulfilling an announcement made in late March, on April 12, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell [R-KY] introduced the Hemp Farming Act of 2018, or SB2667, alongside Senator Rand Paul [R-KY] and several other bipartisan sponsors. That same day, James Comer [R-KY] and Jared Polis [R-CO] introduced an identical measure into the House as HB5485.

Mitch McConnell

Under normal circumstances, when a Senator introduces a bill or joint resolution, the measure must first pass through a committee where multiple readings and a vote take place before proceeding to the Senate floor.

But McConnell was able to bypass the committee step by utilizing Senate Rule XIV which makes it “available for floor considerations and certain procedural steps, such as committee reporting or discharging a committee from a bill’s consideration, and procedural requirements.”

Following its introduction, SB2667 was given a second reading on Monday, April 16 before being placed on the Senate Legislative Calendar as a General Order.

“During the recent state work period, I talked to a number of farmers, manufacturers, and small business owners who expressed enthusiasm for hemp’s potential, and I was proud to stand with Kentucky’s Agricultural Commissioner Ryan Quarles to announce the impending introduction of this bill,” said Senator McConnell in a press release. “Today, with my colleagues, I am proud to introduce the bipartisan Hemp Farming Act of 2018, which will build upon the success of the hemp pilot programs and spur innovation and growth within the hemp industry.”

“By legalizing hemp and empowering states to conduct their own oversight plans,” continued McConnell. “We can give the hemp industry the tools necessary to create jobs and new opportunities for farmers and manufacturers around the country.”

As written, the McConnell’s measure would amend the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946 to allow for hemp production in all fifty states as well as on tribal land. If passed, states and tribes would be able to enact their own laws and regulations for the plant’s cultivation, processing, distribution, and sales.

Senator Ron Wyden

“It is far past time for Congress to pass this commonsense, bipartisan legislation to end the outrageous anti-hemp, anti-farmer and anti-jobs stigma that’s been codified into law and is holding back growth in American agriculture jobs and our economy at large,” said Senator Ron Wyden [D-OR] regarding the new bill. “Hemp products are made in this country, sold in this country and consumed in this country.”

“Senator McConnell,” added Wyden. “our colleagues and I are going to keep pushing to make sure that if Americans can buy hemp products at the local supermarket, American farmers can grow hemp in this country.”

SB2667 would amend the Controlled Substances Act and distinguish THC-rich cannabis varieties from hemp. The measure includes language that calls for the removal of hemp from the list entirely.

“It’s past time that we move beyond these outdated and frustrating restrictions on hemp farming in the United States,” said Senator Jeff Merkley [D-OR] in the press release. “If we’re selling hemp products in the United States, we should be growing hemp in the United States—it’s good for jobs, good for our communities, and it’s just common sense.”

SB2667 would allow hemp researchers to seek out federal grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for their studies, and farmers would be eligible to apply for crop insurance. If the measure is eventually signed into law, hemp-derived CBD would also become federally legal.