FRANKFORT, Ky. — U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture Ryan Quarles announced today the impending introduction of legislation in the United States Senate to support Kentucky’s hemp industry. The Hemp Farming Act of 2018 will legalize hemp as an agricultural commodity and remove it from the list of controlled substances.
McConnell took the first step to support hemp in 2014 by using his leadership position in the Senate to spearhead a provision to legalize hemp pilot programs in the Farm Bill. Since then, the research has shown the potential of hemp as an agricultural commodity.
“Hemp has played a foundational role in Kentucky’s agricultural heritage, and I believe that it can be an important part of our future,” McConnell said. “I am grateful to join our Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles in this effort. He and his predecessor, Jamie Comer, have been real champions for the research and development of industrial hemp in the Commonwealth. The work of Commissioner Quarles here in Kentucky has become a nationwide example for the right way to cultivate hemp. I am proud to stand here with him today, because I believe that we are ready to take the next step and build upon the successes we’ve seen with Kentucky’s hemp pilot program.”
Quarles touted the success of the pilot in Kentucky.
“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,” said Quarles. “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.”
The Hemp Farming Act of 2018 will help Kentucky enhance its position as the leading state on hemp production. It builds upon the success we have seen through the hemp pilot programs by allowing states to be the primary regulators of hemp, if the U.S. Department of Agriculture approves their implementation plan. This legislation also will remove the federal barriers in place that have stifled the industry, which will help expand the domestic production of hemp. It will also give hemp researchers the chance to apply for competitive federal grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture – allowing them to continue their impressive work with the support of federal research dollars.
McConnell plans to introduce the bill in the Senate with U.S. Sen. Rand Paul and a bipartisan group of members, following this state work period.
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