Senate Majority Leader Planning ‘Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2015′
Last year, the U.S. Congress made history by passing the Farm Bill, or the Agricultural Act of 2014, which included a provision that allowed the cultivation of industrial hemp for purposes of economic study. The Farm Bill has led directly to a number of states organizing hemp-growing “pilot programs” to that affect, Kentucky being perhaps the best-known of them.
This year, a group of lawmakers wants to take that idea even further. The Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2015 is being planned by a bipartisan collective of four senators, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his influential junior partner in the Senate, Rand Paul.
This four-member Senate team-up is not only backed by lawmakers with real clout in the new congress, it’s also a striking and somewhat rare display of bipartisanship. In fact, it’s a combination of the two Republican senators from Kentucky with the two Democratic senators from Oregon.
That both senators from liberal-leaning Oregon, who just happen to be Democrats, and both senators from conservative-trending Kentucky, who just happen to be not only Republicans but among the most influential and powerful Republicans in American political life, sends a strong message about what’s happening in this country regarding the perception of hemp, along with all other cannabis products.
“In fact, this might well be the only issue on which Oregon’s Democratic U.S. senators, Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, agree with their two Republican colleagues from Kentucky, Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell,” opines the Oregon-based Albany Democrat-Herald.
The Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2015
If passed, the bill would allow farmers to legally grow hemp for industrial and commercial purposes, as long as there are no state restrictions on doing so. The “Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2015,” as it’s being called, “would remove hemp from the federal Schedule I controlled substance list – a frankly ludicrous designation in the first place – and would define it as a nondrug as long as it contained less than 0.3 percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC),” the Albany Democrat-Herald editors explain.
Understandably, the news has delivered a lot of excitement to the farming community. The commercial applications of industrial hemp are almost endless; it’s a cheap substitute for rope, paper, soap, and a great deal of other everyday uses.
There’s also the popularity of hemp seeds to consider. Commonly called a “superfood,” hemp seeds have become a sensation among the health-conscious and are a popular component in many recipes (especially smoothies). It’s legal to buy hemp seeds in your local grocery store, but it isn’t legal for American farmers to grow them here — at least, not yet.
For his part, McConnell is a big advocate of removing restrictions on hemp farming, in the interest of restoring his home state’s prominence as the nation’s leading industrial hemp producer. He was instrumental in adding the hemp provisions to last year’s Farm Bill — and this year, as the Senate majority leader, his influence over the congress is even greater.