Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Majority Leader of the United States Senate, has publicly announced his intention to sponsor federal legislation to legalize and fund the licensed production of industrial hemp.
According to a press release issued by the Senator, the forthcoming legislation – entitled the Hemp Farming Act of 2018 – “will allow states to be the primary regulators of hemp” and will allocate grant funding to federally subsidize industrial hemp cultivation.
The Senator previously shepherded federal reforms in 2014 permitting states to legally authorize hemp cultivation as part of academic research pilot programs. Over two-dozen states have established regulations permitting limited hemp cultivation under this provision. In 2017, state-licensed producers grew over 39,000 acres of hemp, up from roughly 16,000 acres in 2016.
Legislation, HR 3530, is currently pending in the US House of Representatives to exclude low-THC strains of cannabis grown for industrial purposes from the federal definition of marijuana. That measure has 43 co-sponsors.
According to a Congressional Research Service report, the United States is the only developed nation in which industrial hemp is not an established crop.