Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell appears to be doing everything he can to push full legalization of industrial hemp cultivation across the finish line.
The Kentucky Republican has placed himself on the conference committee that will reconcile differences between the Senate version of the Farm Bill, which legalizes hemp cultivation, and the House version, which does not. McConnell was a co-sponsor of the legislation legalizing hemp that was included in the Farm Bill.
According to the Fence Post, McConnell said:
“I have proudly served on the ariculture committee since my first day in the Senate and know exactly how important this legislation is to agricultural communities across Kentucky,” McConnell said.
“So as majority leader, I put myself on the conference, and we’re ready to get to work to ensure the future of American agriculture. I will advocate for Kentucky’s multi-billion-dollar agriculture industry that supports thousands of good jobs and families in nearly every corner of the commonwealth.
“Additionally, I will strongly advocate to legalize industrial hemp. I’m optimistic that my Hemp Farming Act, which I secured in the Senate bill, will be included in the final bill sent to the president for his signature. I am also glad to have the support of Congressman (James) Comer (R-Ky.) on the conference for legalizing industrial hemp.”
According to Politico, McConnell and Rep. James Comer, also from Kentucky and a farmer who swears by CBD for combating aches and pains, are pushing for legalization. Politico reports:
As soon as he got to Congress, Comer sponsored the Hemp Farming Act of 2018, which gathered 13 cosponsors. But like many bills introduced by freshmen, it went nowhere—even after roping in Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) as a cosponsor with a promise to route the bill through the Agricultural Committee instead of Judiciary, which has been the traditional graveyard for cannabis legislation. But Comer’s stand-alone hemp bill never went anywhere in the Ag Committee, either. Comer said he managed to squirrel himself onto the conference committee, where he hopes to argue for a version that lines up the Senate’s. He knows he has to overcome the skepticism of legislators who don’t have hemp industries. “If you’re a member of Congress from a Southern state that has not had the hemp debate, then your knowledge of industrial hemp is very low,” Comer told me. “States like Texas, Missouri, Alabama, Georgia—they’ve not had this debate. And therefore, their member of Congress might get one call from some prosecutor, and automatically they’re opposed to it. And you still have law enforcement officials, for whatever reason, that have reservations about making industrial hemp an agricultural crop.”