Senate votes to remove hemp from Controlled Substances Act, expand opportunities

The U.S. Senate has voted to take hemp out of the Controlled Substances Act, a watershed nod of support for cannabis that could dramatically reshape the U.S. hemp industry.

The move came as part of the 2018 Farm Bill, which passed 86-11 Thursday. The bill must now be merged with the House version, which does not mention hemp.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican who steered the hemp language in the overall bill, took to the Senate floor three times this week to call for the limited legality of the plant to be changed.

The Farm Bill will now move to a conference committee of House-Senate negotiators, which has until September to submit a final version to the president.

The bill says that Cannabis sativa L. plants at or below 0.3% THC are not controlled substances. The bill also:

  • Allows hemp production in all states – even those that have not yet acted to allow it.
  • Authorizes CBD extraction from hemp flowers.
  • Permits hemp production on tribal land and in Puerto Rico.
  • Allows hemp farmers to get crop insurance and access to federal water rights.
  • Requires states that want to have primary oversight of their hemp industries to submit plans to the U.S. Department of Agriculture for how they would monitor the crop, including testing plans for THC content.
  • Protects hemp farmers from criminal prosecution for growing hemp with elevated THC content.
  • Requires states to refer hemp farmers to law enforcement if agriculture regulators determine that a farmer’s hemp contains too much THC not through negligence but “with a culpable mental state.”
  • Requires the USDA to study “the economic viability of the domestic production and sale of industrial hemp.”

Hemp played a minor role in Farm Bill negotiations, which have largely centered on farm subsidies for other crops and food-stamp benefits.

The House voted to roll back Obama-era food stamp expansions, prompting House Democrats to vote against the 2018 Farm Bill. The Senate did not include the same significant changes to food-stamp eligibility.

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2 comments on “Senate votes to remove hemp from Controlled Substances Act, expand opportunities
  1. Mark on

    Well wouldnt that be great to finally recognize the signifant difference between hemp and mj; and allow the return of hemp as a staple crop in ag.
    The ability to monitize the crop has been shown; and the ag equipment, grow products, product innovations and infrastructure required to fully utilize and monetize it will bring endless job and market opportunities
    The mj craze was just that.
    Lets get back to what we know was sustainable for 100s of years here in the US and give a genuine boost to ag and the ecomony.

    Reply
  2. Lisa Huffmon on

    Let the farmers of this country return to growing hemp and put millions of dollars back into the farming industry. Not to mention saving all the trees! Stop using the THC as an excuse and let’s make America great again!!!!

    Reply

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