Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will introduce legislation to make hemp — a variety of marijuana mostly associated with industrial uses that has a long history in the US — a cash crop nationwide.
Hemp is cultivated in some states legally in sanctioned programs, but is currently considered a controlled substance by the federal government.
During a stop in Frankfort, Ky., CNN quoted McConnell as saying:
I just had an opportunity to see some interesting and innovative products, some of which you see here on the table, made with Kentucky-grown hemp … Sunstrand, based in Louisville, contracts with farmers in Henry County to grow hemp that they process into a number of consumer products including home insulation.
Imagine, instead of pink fiberglass, we could use Kentucky grown, environmentally sustainable hemp to insulate our houses. This represents just one many uses that Kentuckians are finding for this versatile crop.
So I will be introducing, when I go back to the Senate a week from Monday, a bipartisan bill in the Senate to continue to support this important Kentucky industry; it will be the Hemp Farm Act of 2018. What will it do? First and foremost, this bill will finally legalize hemp, legalize hemp as an agricultural commodity and remove it from the list of controlled substances.
The federal government defines hemp as Cannabis sativa with a THC content below 0.3 percent. THC is one of the major compounds in marijuana and the one most associated with the euphoria a user feels when consuming it. Another compound, CBD, has eased pain in some medical users. Some hemp-based products such as ointments have been sold for such a purpose.
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As one pundit put it, “you’d have to smoke a joint the size of a telephone pole to get high on it.”
Cultivation of Hemp in the Americas predates the United States. George Washington grew it at Mount Vernon and for much of the 18th and 19th centuries, it was common in rope and clothing.
Cultivation fell out of favor amid antidrug sentiment in the early 1900s and it was eventually made illegal federally. A 2014 law opened the door for cultivation in certain states. McConnell’s proposal would make growing it legal throughout the US.