The United Press International reported that the U.S. Senate passed legislation legalizing hemp as an agricultural commodity. The legislation is part of the $867 billion Farm Bill and was supported by the Senate Republican leader from Kentucky Mitch McConnell.
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, McConnell said.
The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 86-11 and included wide-ranging agriculture and food policy laws. The language states that hemp will be removed from the federal list of controlled substances and that the cultivation, processing, and sale of industrial hemp will be legalized.
In addition to that, researchers will be able to apply for grants from the Agriculture Department and importantly, hemp farmers will be eligible for crop insurance. UPI said that the Senate Farm Bill also lowered the adjusted gross income threshold at which farmers are no longer eligible for farm subsidies from $900,000 to $700,000.
In April, HIA (Hemp Industries Association) Executive Director Colleen Keahey Lanier said, “The removal of industrial hemp from the Controlled Substances Act is critical to the advancement of hundreds of farmers and stakeholders that the HIA represents.”
HIA President Joy Beckerman said in April, “Despite the clear language of Sec. 7606 of the Farm Bill, along with protective hemp amendments that have continued in the federal Omnibus since 2015, the DEA continues to put forth guidance and implement Rule that conflicts with legislative intent, causing state lawmakers and state and federal regulatory agencies to remain cautious. We expect research and American innovation to springboard under this proposed full legalization.”
With regards to banking, the HIA said that confirmation of the federal legality of hemp would ease cooperation between hemp businesses and the financial sector, and provide farmers with access to crop insurance, thereby spurring the growth of the hemp industries and boosting the U.S. domestic economy, particularly in rural areas.
While this is a positive step for many in the cannabis industry, it’s only one step. Next, the Senate bill must reconcile with the House bill and then be signed into law by the President. There are many items in the House bill that the Senate doesn’t like. For example, the House contains language requiring able-bodied people to work for food stamps which isn’t t supported by the Senate.