After 80-Year Prohibition, US Senate Finally Legalizes Hemp
The US Senate has just passed a bill that would legalize hemp as an agricultural commodity, according to reports from the United Press International (UPI).
The measure is part of the Farm Bill, supported by Mitch McConnell, Senate Republican leader. “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 explains.
The bill passed with a 86-11 vote in the Senate, and also includes a comprehensive approach to food and agriculture policies. It states that finally, hemp will be eliminated from the list of federally illegal substance; it will also legalize the sale, processing, and cultivation of industrial hemp. Researchers will also have the ability to seek grants from the Agriculture Department. Most importantly, crop insurance will be made available to hemp farmers.
“Consumers across America buy hundreds of millions in retail products every year that contain hemp,” McConnell said on Thursday during a floor speech. “But due to outdated federal regulations that do not sufficiently distinguish this industrial crop from its illicit cousin, American farmers have been mostly unable to meet that demand themselves. It’s left consumers with little choice but to buy imported hemp products from foreign-produced hemp.”
UPI adds that the $ 867 billion Farm Bill reduced the adjusted gross income limit which states that farmers wouldn’t be eligible for farm subsidies worth $ 900,000 down to $ 700,000. Last April, Hemp Industries Association (HIA) Executive Director Colleen Keahey Lanier stated that “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.” Joy Beckerman, HIA President, added that “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 legislation.”
Bipartisan Support For Hemp Legalization
“Legalizing hemp nationwide ends decades of bad policymaking and opens up untold economic opportunity for farmers in Oregon and across the country,” said Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), during the passage of the bill on Thursday. “Our bipartisan legislation will spur economic growth in rural communities by creating much-needed red, white, and blue jobs that pay well. I’m proud to have worked with my colleagues to get the bipartisan Hemp Farming Act through the Senate. Today marks a long-overdue, huge step forward for American-grown hemp.”
“For the first time in 80 years, this bill legalizes hemp. We forget, but hemp was widely grown in the United States throughout the mid-1800s,” said Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) during a floor speech on Wednesday. “Americans used hemp in fabrics, wine, and paper. Our government treated industrial hemp like any other farm commodity until the early 20th century, when a 1937 law defined it as a narcotic drug, dramatically limiting its growth. This became even worse in 1970 when hemp became a schedule 1 controlled substance. In Colorado, as is true across the country – I have talked to a lot of colleagues about this – we see hemp as a great opportunity to diversify our farms and manufacture high-margin products for the American people.”
According to a Congressional Research Service report, which was issued last week, the “global market for hemp consists of more than 25,000 products.”
The Brightfield Group, a cannabis research firm, estimates that the US market for hemp-derived CBD products will hit $ 1.65 billion by 2021, reflecting over 500% growth from the $ 291 million in 2017.
The top 10 states currently producing hemp are Colorado, Kentucky, Oregon, North Dakota, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, and Nevada; while the new and emerging markets are Arkansas, California, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia, Washington State, and Wisconsin, according an MJBizDaily report on the US hemp market.
The historic move on legalizing hemp will have far-reaching positive implications on the agriculture sector, as well as the legal cannabis industry and patients around the country.