The United States Senate has passed their version of the 2018 Farm Bill on a 86-11 vote yesterday. Most importantly for the sector, included within the bill is the Hemp Farming Act of 2018 which seeks to end industrial hemp prohibition for good throughout the country.
The House and Senate must still agree on certain provision within the bill before it can make its way to President Trumps desk. But, the passing of the Farm Bill by two branches of the U.S. government should be celebrated as a momentous accomplishment for the progress of a legal hemp industry. Under the bill, hemp will be rescheduled as a controlled substance and be legally allowed to be cultivated, processed, and manufactured as an agricultural crop.
The bill was first introduced by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R. KY) who believes the revival of the industry means for a profitable alternative crop for tobacco farmers in his home state of Kentucky. The Hemp Farming Act was first a standalone bill introduced a few months ago and was later included into the 2018 Farm Bill by the Senate last April.
Industrial hemp has a wide range of eco-friendly, sustainable applications. The United States is one of the top consumers of hemp derived products in the World yet, for the past century our country has chosen to import those products rather then cultivating and manufacturing them on American soil. The revival of the hemp industry in the country will create a multitude of new jobs and will help our country move towards a more sustainable future.
Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) gave this statement this week:
“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. 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 I 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.”