McConnell announces hemp legislation with Ky. Ag. Commissioner

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Sen. McConnell met with business leaders to discuss a variety of topics including new legislation McConnell says he's looking to introduce that would remove hemp from the list of controlled substances. McConnell made the announcement on March 26, alongside Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture Ryan Quarles during the U.S. Hemp Roundtable in Frankfort, Ky.

"So I will be introducing, when I go back to the Senate a week from Monday, a bipartisan bill in the Senate to continue to support this important Kentucky industry; it will be the Hemp Farm Act of 2018".

Currently, Kentucky is conducting a pilot program through the Department of Agriculture to grow hemp that is being used for various products and uses.

In 2014, however, Congress passed the Agricultural Act (aka the federal farm bill) that legally defined hemp as cannabis containing "0.3 percent THC or less", and allowing certain states to create pilot programs to grow small amounts of the plant. So far, 34 states have authorized hemp research, while actual production occurred in 19 states past year, said Eric Steenstra, president of the advocacy group Vote Hemp. And in February 2018, researchers were eyeing Rapho Township, Lancaster County as another possible site for industrial hemp research.

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Hemp advocates fighting for years to restore the crop's legitimacy hailed McConnell's decision to put his political influence behind the effort to make it a legal crop again. "But one thing I know for certain is, due to the farmer lead research here in Kentucky we are the best positioned state in the nation to capture the economic impact of industrial hemp if and when it becomes commercialized".

Despite its many practical applications, the plant has been illegal to grow in the US without a permit since 1970 due to its relation to cannabis, or, as Mike Pence probably calls it while ritually flagellating himself for making eye contact with an unwed woman, "Satan's sativa". He and his predecessor, Jamie Comer, have been real champions for the research and development of industrial hemp in the Commonwealth. This legislation also will remove the federal barriers in place that have stifled the industry, which will help expand the domestic production of hemp. The Trump administration has taken a tougher stance on marijuana.

McConnell added that he'd discuss the bill with Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a noted cannabis opponent. Tobacco production dropped sharply in Kentucky amid declining smoking rates.