On Monday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told a group of hemp advocates in his home state of Kentucky, that he plans to introduce legislation legalizing the crop as an agricultural commodity in order to “bring agricultural hemp production back into the national mainstream”1 stating:
“I believe hemp has a bright future in our state. It’s now time to take the final step and make this a legal crop for every state that wants to file a plan with the U.S. Department of agriculture.”2
But to do that, the plant must first be removed from the list of controlled substances.
Currently, growing hemp- the same species as marijuana but with only negligible amounts of the THC that gives users a “high”- without a federal permit is illegal due to its classification as a controlled substance. However, McConnell is hopeful that hemp can do for Kentucky what tobacco once did.
The 2014 federal Farm Bill allowed state agriculture departments to designate hemp projects for research and development. And thus far, more than 30 states have authorized that research, including Kentucky, “where agriculture officials have approved about 12,000 acres to be grown in the state this year.”3 Once grown, 57 processors in Kentucky are turning the raw product into a number of products.
If McConnell succeeds, it could mean big business for Kentucky and many other states. And we need new industry.
McConnell says he will have a discussion with Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has some strong opinions on marijuana, to clear up any confusion about the plant.