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McConnell’s Farm Bill to legalize hemp and hemp-based CBD passes congress

The fight over federal legalization for hemp and hemp-based products like CBD is gaining ground in the United States Congress with Tuesday’s passage of the $867 billion Farm Bill.  With overwhelming bipartisan support, the bill passed by a margin of 87 to 13 in the Senate trailed by a 369 to 47 victory in the House on the following day.  The only things standing in the way of legalized hemp nationwide is Trump’s signature.

The bill is designed to expand government-funded subsidiaries for hemp farmers will providing additional permanent funding for local food programs and farmers’ markets.  Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell introduced the bill last May while claiming that its passage will “spurn innovation and growth” within the hemp farming community.

 "Today, with my colleagues, I am proud to introduce the bipartisan Hemp Farming Act of 2018, which will build upon the success of the hemp pilot programs and spur innovation and growth within the industry. By legalizing hemp and empowering states to conduct their own oversight plans, we can give the hemp industry the tools necessary to create jobs and new opportunities for farmers and manufacturers around the county."
 
- Senator Mitch McConnell via The Hill
 

Related Article:  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell fast-tracks bill to legalize hemp

To many cannabis enthusiasts, McConnell – a staunch Republican – seems an unlikely cheerleader for the legalization of hemp.  While the passage of the Farm Bill is good news for hemp farmers and activists alike, McConnell's home state of Kentucky benefits a great deal, as well.  The Bluegrass State has experienced an approximate 90 percent decline of its chief cash crop of tobacco in recent decades. Legalized hemp farming will go a long way to make up the difference.

What does this mean for the marijuana industry?

To be clear, just because good ole’ Mitch has suddenly seen the light and decided to push for the legalization of hemp at the federal level does not necessarily mean that the GOP-diehard will support similar legislation for marijuana.  In fact, it’s quite the contrary.  McConnell – like Trump’s former and now-fired U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions – aggressively opposes legalized weed pf any kind.

Even so, there were two states which voted during the 2018 midterms to pass medical marijuana initiatives.  Thanks to voters in Utah and Missouri, the United States now boasts some 32 states with legalized marijuana legislation on the books.   Meanwhile, the federal government still classifies marijuana as an illegal Schedule 1 Drug while refusing to officially endorse reams of scientific research documenting its many medicinal benefits. 

Related Article: Top Dems Warner & Kaine join GOP Leader McConnell to legalize hemp

The Farm Bill will not change anything for the medical or recreational marijuana industries at a national level.  In fact, many weed advocates suspect that the political and now-legal embrace of hemp by federal lawmakers may become a substantial obstacle for the potential passage of similar federal legislation for the cannabis industry. 

Politicians can always argue that hemp is useful in making clothes, paper, plastics, insulation, and even animal feed. Furthermore, hemp and hemp-based products like CBD are also substantially lower in tetrahydrocannabinol or THC which means that the user rarely gets high like they would with marijuana consumption.

On the other hand, Donald Trump himself has even floated his apparent support for the legalization of medical marijuana on occasion.  When Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) of Pocahontas fame introduced her pro-pot STATES Act (Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States), Trump was said to be in favor of its passage. 

Related Article:  Trump now supports Warren’s STATES Act to legalize marijuana; Sessions wants crackdown

(Image courtesy of Shutterstock)

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