Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is guaranteeing that the 2018 Farm Bill will include his industrial hemp legalization provision after the Senate and House reach a compromise—ideally by the end of the year.
“If there’s a Farm Bill, it’ll be in there, I guarantee that,” he told reporters on Friday.
McConnell said he’s visited several hemp processors over the past few months, and one thing that occurred to him was the international implications of hemp legalization. Executives based in countries like Australia and major investors have expressed interest in the hemp business, he said, signaling the crop’s immense potential.
“I don’t want to overstate this—I don’t know if it’s going to be the next tobacco or not—but I do think it has a lot of potential,” he said. “And as all of you already know, in terms of food and medicine but also car parts. I mean, it’s an extraordinary plant.”
When industrial hemp is legalized, it will be “lightly regulated” by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, McConnell stressed. He added that . the Justice Department wouldn’t be involved and the “only federal involvement would be [hemp farmers would] be eligible for crop insurance.”
And because prospective hemp cultivators would have to register their business, local law enforcement would be able to identify legitimate grows, he said. That way they can find individuals growing “the cousin,” McConnell said, referencing marijuana.
See the video of McConnell’s hemp legalization guarantee, about 13:15 into the clip below:
The senate majority leader’s hemp legalization plan got an endorsement from his counterpart in the House last month. Outgoing House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) discussed the benefits of cannabidiol (CBD) and said he backed efforts to legalize hemp.
“And by the way, there’s a lot of industrial uses for hemp that I understand from talking to Mitch McConnell is a big deal to Kentucky agriculture,” Ryan said. “And we’re all in favor of that as well.”
While McConnell said lawmakers are working to pass a farm bill before the year’s end, he also acknowledged that a separate provision concerning work requirements for food stamp recipients has caused delays.
This story has been updated to include the video of McConnell’s remarks.
Photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore.