Hemp industry advocates are rejoicing after the Senate passed the Farm Bill yesterday in an 86-11 vote, legalizing the growing of commercial hemp on U.S. soil. Hemp industry representatives note that the Hemp Farming Act of 2018, which U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) introduced on April 12 and which was ultimately rolled up in the Senate's Farm Bill, made it through the Senate vote unchanged and with bipartisan support. Hemp will now be removed from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, clearly separating it from marijuana, and will become an agricultural crop in the U.S. Hemp is also the source of the phytocannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD), an ingredient of growing interest in the dietary supplements industry.
Legitimization as a commercial agricultural crop means that hemp farmers can apply for research grants and assistance from federal bodies like USDA and can also apply for crop insurance coverage. Hemp growing will be regulated by the states.
Lobbyist group U.S. Hemp Roundtable, which celebrated yesterday's Senate Farm Bill passage, also cautioned that there is still work to be done to reconcile differences between the House and Senate versions of the Farm Bill. (The House passed its version of the Farm Bill on June 21.)
In an e-mail sent to industry supporters, the U.S. Hemp Roundtable warned, “A House/Senate conference committee will soon meet to resolve the differences between the Senate Farm Bill and the House Farm Bill, the latter which includes no hemp language. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will be leading the fight to ensure that the conference committee retains the hemp-friendly Senate language before it gets sent back to the House and Senate floors for final passage.” The group advocated supporters to contact their Senators and Congressmen to urge support of the hemp provisions of the Senate Farm Bill and created a portal on its website to facilitate communication.