Common Ground: Hemp

06/11/2018 05:16 PM

It’s being called a“cash crop”—under utilized due to federal regulations—and often confused with it’s psychoactive cousin.

Kentucky farmers hope it can become what tobacco used to be—with a new bipartisan push—it could become legal this year.

Of course we are talking about Hemp.

The charge to legalize hemp is being led by the most powerful man in the Senate—Kentucky’s Senior Senator Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky. McConnell introduced the Hemp Farming Act in March—and the measure quickly gained 27 co-sponsors including Kentucky’s Junior Senator Rand Paul,R-Kentucky,—and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York.

The hemp farming act would do several things—first it would legalize hemp production in the united states, while removing hemp from the controlled substance list. States would be able to regulate the industry if they formulate their own plans—if not the USDA would oversee production of the crop. The changes would allow farmers to buy crop insurance or utilize other forms of assistance used by specialty crop farmers—and apply for federal research grants.

The new push to legalize industrial hemp builds on a pilot program from the 2014 farm bill which allowed states to regulate the crop.

“I know some challenges remain today between the federal government and farmers and producers in Kentucky but the goal of this new bill—should it become law—is simply to remove the roadblocks.” said Sen. McConnell.

The United States Senate recently passed a resolution designating June 4-10 as “Hemp History Week” bringing attention to the value that hemp could produce. Several events throughout Kentucky were held to recognize hemp as well.

Sen. McConnell successfully secured the Hemp Farming Act in the 2018 farm bill. The Senate Agriculture Committee is planning on voting on the farm bill this week.

But—While the Hemp Farming Act has been well recieved on a bipartisan basis—the inclusion of the measure in overall farm bill could spell trouble—after an early version of the farm bill failed in the House of Representatives amid an immigration debate. It is expected the farm bill pass on a bipartisan basis in the Senate, but if the House is unable to clear up the debate on immigration, it could once again become halted. It’s something that Kentucky farmers will be watching closely as they wonder if they have will have a shot at producing this “cash crop” once again.

Watch the Segment:

Michon Lindstrom

Michon is a producer for Pure Politics. Michon comes to Kentucky from Springfield, Illinois where she served as the statehouse reporter for the NBC affiliate. During her time in the Land of Lincoln she covered the state’s two year budget impasse and the largest school funding overall in Illinois history. Pure Politics airs weeknights at 7 and 11:30 on Spectrum News. Follow Michon on Twitter at @MichonLindstrom or reach her by email at michon.lindstrom@charter.com

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