Sun, Jul 12, 2020

Will the Federal Government ever allow nationwide Hemp cultivation?

What do Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Mitch McConnell (R-KY) have in common? They both think America should be legally growing and trading hemp. A perfect example of how Cannabis can help bring people together!

Senator Wyden introduced the first bill in 2012, along with officials from Kentucky, motivated by former agriculture commissioner and rookie representative James Comer (R-KY). However, these efforts failed due to political fear of hemp and the stigma of its relationship to Cannabis. But Kentucky didn’t give up in an effort to help its farmers; many of which had previously grown tobacco but failed due to market conditions and corporatization/conglomeration of farming.

In 2013 Mitch McConnell, the sitting Senate majority leader and representative from Kentucky came out of his shell and got behind the hemp movement. Introducing the first version of the Industrial Hemp Farming Act that year along with Oregon senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley (D-OR). Their uncommon bipartisan effort gradually started to convince members of the house and senate of the vital role hemp will play in America’s future. The alliance allowed for agricultural hemp pilot research programs to be allowed and studied in the passage of the 2014 farm bill, a comprehensive agriculture omnibus bill which sets all of our farming policies in one giant bill that’s reviewed about every four years.

Today, these efforts have evolved into H.R. 5485 (Rep. Comer, R-KY) and S. 2667 (Sen. McConnell, R-KY) as well as inclusions of language in the 2018 omnibus farm bill and many other bills aimed at modifying the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) to allow for industrial hemp production and trade. The Senate version of the 2018 Omnibus Farm Bill (S. 3042 [115]) passed with language that would remove hemp from the CSA. However, the house version of the bill (H.R. 2) did not pass with the necessary language included removing hemp from the CSA.

However as mentioned, it is not the only effort to amend the CSA to allow for hemp cultivation and research, and at least one of these bills is expected to prevail into law. Sen. McConnell and Rep. Comer both sit on the committee overseeing the 2018 joint (house and senate) farm bill, which will be discussed and drafted in late September. This gives both men a great opportunity to advocate for a legal hemp solution successfully.


I hope these efforts will pass successfully and amend the CSA because we cannot forget that until they do that CBD is still a classified as a Schedule 1 narcotic (meaning it has no medicinal value.) We also cannot forget our federal government owns the patents to many of the therapeutic uses for Cannabis (including CBD from hemp.)

It’s also important to remember that just because Mitch McConnell likes hemp, it doesn’t mean he has progressed his platform that much. The bills still have many elements that continue to treat hemp like a schedule 1 drug. The language specifically excludes anyone previously convicted of any drug felony from participating. This sentiment is mirrored by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) which has repeatedly refused to consider rescheduling both CBD and THC. They have put these feelings into action on many occasions, including seizing shipments of legal hemp seeds bound for university pilot hemp farming projects that the 2014 farm bill initiated.

This is a great opportunity for this country to come together and do what we do best – innovate. Also, our current antagonistic trade war policies have resulted in an increase in the price of imported hemp, which serves as yet another reason that we should develop domestic hemp production; especially considering we are one of the top hemp consuming nations.

There is a lot of work to be done to re-establish hemp supply chains and develop new cultivation technology and practices in order to make it a crop successful enough to convince farmers to cultivate it over tobacco, soy, corn, and cotton. All three of those crops have had tremendous amounts of energy put into developing and marketing new products to be made from the crop to increase demand. This will need to be done with hemp as well if it’s going to compete sustainably.