Hemp legalization bill expedited to full Senate

, Hemp legalization bill expedited to full Senate

A long-awaited hemp bill is on the fast track in the U.S. Senate.

The measure to remove hemp from the Controlled Substances Act got a boost Monday, according to The Hill.

Sen. Mitch McConnell, the bill’s sponsor and the Senate Majority Leader, invoked a Senate procedure to allow the bill to skip over the committee process and move directly to debate by the full Senate.

The procedural move, called Rule XIV, doesn’t automatically guarantee the hemp bill will get a vote, and according to The Hill, McConnell’s spokesman declined to give any hint if or when hemp would be debated by the full Senate.

The bill represents the boldest attempt yet to make hemp an agricultural commodity like corn or wheat.

The measure would:
  • Remove requirements that states enact hemp pilot programs.
  • Give oversight of the new crop to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, not the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

The measure would also make hemp farmers eligible for crop insurance and federal water rights, two significant barriers to making hemp a large-scale commodity.

McConnell, a Kentucky senator who has been credited with getting limited hemp production in the 2014 Farm Bill, says the measure would “empower American farmers to explore this promising new market.”

McConnell’s measure is co-sponsored by Sen. Rand Paul, a fellow Kentucky Republican, and two Democrats from Oregon, Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden.