After 40 years of prohibition, Senator Mitch McConnell has introduced a bill to legalize hemp production across the country. The bill, which defines hemp as cannabis sativa at or below .03 percent THC, would make hemp farmers eligible for crop insurance and federal water rights.
If the bill passes as written, hemp would be regulated by the USDA just like any other agricultural commodity, instead of regulated by the Department of Justice and its Drug Enforcement Administration. The bill skipped the committee process and was fast-tracked to the U.S Senate. Head of the National Hemp Association, Geoff Whaling, described the proposal as exciting and historic.
The national hemp discussion has already begun to have an effect at state levels. On July 1st this year, a pilot program for growing industrial hemp will launch in the state of Connecticut. The program will study the growth, cultivation and marketing of industrial hemp. On top of that, Alaska became the latest state to allow hemp cultivation last month. The governor of Alaska signed the bill into law with a pen made of hemp, noting that great opportunities for Alaskan farmers lie ahead.
Hemp is usually overshadowed, if not completely forgotten, amidst discussions on cannabis legislation. Many are unaware how useful hemp has been throughout history and how useful it currently is in states with hemp pilot programs. The stalk, fiber and seeds of hemp have a massive scope of practical applications, including but not limited to clothing, paper, animal feed, biodegradable plastic and construction materials. Considering its limited production scale, hemp industry sales topped an impressive $688 million in 2016.
Background information for this article was provided by GrowSpan. Visit their website at GrowSpan.com.