Senators Approve Federal Legislation Authorizing Commercial Hemp Cultivation

Washington, DC: Members of the US Senate have approved legislation to expand commercial hemp production.

Provisions added by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) to H.R. 2: The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (aka the 2018 Farm Bill) amend federal regulations to further expand and facilitate state-licensed hemp production, research, and commerce. The language also for the first time amends the federal Controlled Substances Act of 1970 so that industrial hemp plants containing no more than 0.3 percent THC are no longer classified as a schedule I controlled substance. (See page 1182, Section 12608: ‘Conforming changes to controlled substances act.’) These provisions were initially introduced as stand-alone legislation, Senate Bill 2667: The Hemp Farming Act of 2018.

Members of the Senate Committee on Agriculture approved the hemp amendments to the Farm Bill on June 13, and members of the full Senate voted 86 to 11 in favor of the act – must-pass legislation that is approved by Congress every five years. Senate leadership and House leadership will ultimately have to reconcile both chambers’ versions of the legislation. The House version does not contain the same hemp-related provisions.

Senator McConnell previously shepherded hemp-related language (Section 7606) in the 2014 version of the Farm Bill, which for the first time permitted states to establish hemp research and cultivation programs absent federal approval. A majority of states have now enacted legislation to permit such programs.

For more information, contact Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director, at (202) 483-5500.