Published: Wed, March 28, 2018
Worldwide | By Lisa Hogan

US Senate wants to legalize industrial hemp

US Senate wants to legalize industrial hemp

"It will also give hemp researchers the chance to apply for competitive federal grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture", McConnell's press release says.

"Hemp has played a foundational role in Kentucky's agricultural heritage, and I believe that it can be an important part of our future", McConnell said at a conference in Frankfort, Kentucky, accompanied by the state Commissioner of Agriculture Ryan Quarles.

Declassification would allow farmers to grow hemp without a federal permit, offering states more control over the hemp industry and easing the regulatory start-up costs faced by growers.

A non-flowering variant of the cannabis plant, hemp has hundreds of potential commercial uses, including food, fuel, biodegradable plastic, paint and clothing.

In Pennsylvania, the Department of Agriculture in February approved 39 research projects that will allow cultivation of about 1,000 acres of marijuana's non-psychoactive cousin.

In the past, McConnell has helped create new federal and state legal permissions for hemp, as well as helped shepherd hemp into the 2014 farm bill.

The promised move was applauded by hemp supporters in Pennsylvania.

The original Farm Bill said that it was okay to grow cannabis plants that had little ability to get people high. McConnell plans to officially introduce the measure next week, with Senator Rand Paul (R) and a bipartisan group of other lawmakers serving as cosponsors.

Kentucky has been at the forefront of hemp's comeback. So far, more than 30 states have authorized hemp research.

"By recognizing in the federal statute the difference between hemp and its illicit cousin, we can allow this industry to continue to flourish here in Kentucky", Sen. He and his predecessor, Jamie Comer, have been real champions for the research and development of industrial hemp in the Commonwealth.

Brian Furnish, an eighth-generation tobacco farmer in Kentucky, has taken the plunge into hemp production.

He also anticipates meeting with US Attorney General Jeff Sessions to make sure he understands the bill's intentions. The Trump administration has taken a tougher stance on marijuana.

As a champion of the hemp industry, McConnell recently successfully passed the 2018 Omnibus Spending Bill which included language that specifically approves the interstate and global transportation of hemp and hemp-derived products. Tobacco production dropped sharply in Kentucky amid declining smoking rates.

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