Mitch McConnell Wants Hemp Removed From Controlled Substance List

Mar 29, 2018, 01:36
Mitch McConnell Wants Hemp Removed From Controlled Substance List

If the U.S. Department of Agriculture approves the plan, the Hemp Farming Act of 2018 will help Kentucky take the lead on hemp production by removing the current barriers to full-fledged farming.

Men harvest marijuana plants to extract the hemp fiber that is often used in traditional Japanese clothes and accessories, at Japan's largest legal marijuana farm in Kanuma, Tochigi prefecture, Japan.

During his speech to Commerce Lexington, McConnell spoke in length about the need to legalize hemp, saying the crop could have a bigger impact on Kentucky's agricultural sector than tobacco once did.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell thinks farmers could benefit from the legalization of industrial hemp and he wants to make that happen.

Hemp can be used to make food, clothing and cannabidiol, a therapeutic oil derived from the plant. In 2014, McConnell spearheaded a provision to legalize hemp pilot programs in the Farm Bill. The Hemp Farming Act of 2018 will legalize hemp as an agricultural commodity and remove it from the list of controlled substances.

Hemp is cannabis that contains less than 0.3% THC, and four years ago it was completely illegal.

While hemp and its more famous cousin, marijuana, are both varieties of cannabis sativa, one of the three main subtypes of the cannabis plant, they're different in a number of ways.

"If this is true, this is the greatest moment in recent hemp history", said attorney Andrew Sacks, the co-chair of the Pennsylvania Bar Association's Medical Marijuana and Hemp Law Committee.

So far, 34 states have authorized hemp research and 19 have production programs, Bruce Schreinerreports for The Associated Press.

Hemp was selectively bred for a range of consumer and industrial uses and has been grown in the USA for centuries. It would also allow hemp researchers to apply for grants through the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Hemp production totaled 25,541 acres (10,336 hectares) in 2017, more than double the 2016 output, said Eric Steenstra, president of Vote Hemp.

Hemp, which has been cultivated for thousands of years, is a resilient and nutrient-rich plant that contributes to the health of the soil and grows well in drought-prone climates.

"Hemp has played a foundational role in Kentucky's agricultural heritage, and I believe that it can be an important part of our future", said Senator McConell.

McConnell acknowledged there was "some queasiness" about hemp in 2014 when federal lawmakers cleared the way for states to regulate it for research and pilot programs.

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