Washington, D.C: Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell submits to Congress the Hemp Farming Act which aims to remove non-psychoactive cannabis varieties from legislation.
This bill is to empower American farmers and the economy, while simultaneously removing non-psychoactive varieties from the Controlled Substances Act.
Currently, with the exception of the farm bill, any product, hemp or marijuana, from the plant cannabis sativa is illegal; there are over 100 cannabinoids in the plant material, yet the only cannabinoid that is psychoactive is THC. Federal law prohibits human consumption and possession of schedule 1 controlled substances.
McConnell comments harken back to early American days, comparing hemp to the history of tobacco in Kentucky. Although McConnell is Republican, this legislation is presented by a group of bipartisan cosponsors; the group comprises over 10 people so far including Senator Schumer and Senator Jeff Merkely, both Democrat.
Under the Controlled Substances Act, it is illegal to grow hemp as it is classified under the same definition as marijuana. However, it is legal in some states, under a pilot program, to grow and process industrial hemp. Hemp products themselves are legal to possess and sell in roughly 47 states. It should be legal for the farmers in every state to be able to grow their own hemp as a crop. That way, the state can directly benefit.
The Hemp Farming Bill also seeks to remove restrictions on banking and water restrictions. Currently, companies have trouble with federal banks and turn to state banks for their banking needs. Under this outline, hemp would be eligible for crop insurance, just like rice or corn.
Regulation would be through the U.S Department of Agriculture, as well as oversight of all plans for growth.
This is not the first time that McConnell advocates for hemp; in 2014, he was a part of the Farm Bill that regulates states ability to grow medical marijuana. Specifically, he inserted language that would shelter research programs from the federal government. The Farm bill also has a larger effect of regulating all agriculture and food policy in the United States.
This issue is so important to America, that minority whip Democrat Schumer, who rarely agrees on issues with McConnell, is reaching across the aisle to pass this legislation. At the end of April, he signed on as a cosponsor of the bill.
Sen. Schumer called the current laws prohibiting the cultivation of hemp “a crock,” Forbes reports. “It makes no sense that the DEA is the primary regulator, and that they stop farmers and investors from growing hemp,” Schumer continued. “Why are we buying hemp from other countries, when we have hundreds of acres that could be grown right here in our backyard?”
In fact, Schumer aims to remove marijuana completely from the Controlled Substances Act, although McConnell does not agree with this sentiment. Schumer introduced this bill on 4/20 of this year.
“The federal government made a mistake when they labeled hemp as a controlled substance, putting it on par with dangerous substances like heroin. In reality, industrial hemp is an oyster with a pearl of opportunities that could mean millions in economic revenue while also helping to support new local jobs in Sullivan, Orange and Ulster counties,” said Senator Schumer. “Industrial Hemp can be used to make everything from paper, to clothing, to plastics which is why it so important we fix this outdated law as soon as possible so farms, businesses, and partnerships, like the one fostered between The Center For Discovery and SUNY Sullivan can continue to grow, expand, and research benefits of hemp without the onerous and outdated restrictions from the federal government.”
Hemp has the ability to bolster the American agricultural economy, which has been struggling since the 1970s.
Currently, the DEA has run into some trouble over their overregulation of non-psychoactive cannabinoids, when seizing legal hemp products. Supplies and shipments in legal head shops have been seized illegally; stopping revenue of a crop that does not cause psycho-active effects and buying hemp from other countries makes no sense.