March 26 (UPI) — Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said Monday that he will introduce a bill to remove hemp from the list of controlled substances and legalize it as an agricultural product nationwide.
McConnell announced his plans to introduce the Hemp Farming Act of 2018 while in his home state of Kentucky, where the potential of hemp farming has popular support.
“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.
The Senator from Kentucky pointed to the University of Kentucky’s industrial hemp research pilot program, which he said revealed many “successes” that could be had in the state through hemp farming.
Kentucky’s Commissioner of Agriculture, Ryan Quarles, added that the program has “established a model for how other states can do the same with buy-in from growers, processors, and law enforcement.”
Politico reported that several senators from both parties have expressed support for the bill and that it could be included in the next farm bill, due in September.
“The Hemp Farming Act of 2018 will help Kentucky enhance its position as the leading state on hemp production,” McConnell’s office said in a statement. “This legislation also will remove the federal barriers in place that have stifled the industry, which will help expand the domestic production of hemp. It will also give hemp researchers the chance to apply for competitive federal grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture — allowing them to continue their impressive work with the support of federal research dollars.”
Other states with agricultural bases looking to get involved in hemp production are also eager to see it pass.
Geoff Whaling, chairman of the National Hemp Association and owner of a farm in Pennsylvania, told Penn Live that his state could soon begin farming 100,000 acres of hemp.
“This is big,” he said.