It was great to see that Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had announced his intention to move forward with a bipartisan bill to remove hemp from the list of controlled substances and even provide federal grants for farmers. Senator McConnell is excited about the benefits hemp can bring to his home state of Kentucky. While it has been painfully obvious that hemp should never have been prohibited in the first place, it’s better late than never. Hemp for Victory, the U.S. government film that urged American farmers to grow as much hemp as possible to help us win World War II should be required viewing for members of Congress and the Executive Branch.
Congress took the first step to chipping away at hemp prohibition in 2014 by shielding limited hemp research programs from federal prosecution. Since 2014, Kentucky has been a leader in the hemp industry, as Commissioner of Agriculture Ryan Quarles stated in the press release announcing the Hemp Farming Act of 2018, “Here in Kentucky, we have built the best Industrial Hemp Research Pilot Program in the country and have established a model for how other states can do the same with buy-in from growers, processors, and law enforcement. “I want to thank Leader McConnell for introducing this legislation which allows us to harness the economic viability of this crop and presents the best opportunity to put hemp on a path to commercialization.”
A real game changer in the bill could be a provision that will allow for researchers to compete for grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. As we’ve seen in Oregon, a lot of the current hemp production has been used for hemp oil, a high-CBD product that can provide medicinal and other health benefits. The benefits of cannabis and hemp oils are evident, but what I’m really excited about is the potential for the Hemp Farming Act’s research grants to open up the possibility of hemp plastics, fuel, and other products that can improve our environment.
Hemp oil is already on the shelves, and cannabis-based medicines will likely be legal by prescription soon across the nation, and available in states that have passed medical and legalization laws. Breaking into other industries, particularly competing with Big Oil, will likely take technological advancements, a consumer educational program, and maybe even some government subsidies.
The Hemp Farming Act has the potential to open up the benefits of hemp for farmers, processors, entrepreneurs, consumers, and planet earth. Jack Herer, the author of The Emperor Wears No Clothes, and one of the founders of the modern legalization movement, famously stated that “Hemp can save the planet.” (The Emperor Wears No Clothes and Doug Fine’s Hemp Bound are really required reading for anyone wanting to learn about the past, present and future of hemp.) If we all contact our members of Congress and urge them to pass the Hemp Farming Act, we might soon prove Jack Herer correct.
The Let’s Hash It Out podcast crew discussed the Hemp Farming Act of 2018, first (well, after 3/4 of the crew toked on some legal Oregon cannabis from Cannabliss), before getting into other topics. Have a listen. You can check out all of the podcasts right here on Weed News. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter.