The 20-1 vote follows last week’s provision, introduced by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), which essentially removes hemp from the federal definition of marijuana thus qualifying hemp growers to receive federal crop insurance into the 2018 Farm Bill.
“Securing the Hemp Farming Act as part of the 2018 Farm Bill has been a top priority of mine. I look forward to continuing to work with my Senate colleagues on this and many other issues important to Kentucky agriculture as we move towards consideration of the Farm Bill," McConnell said in a statement following the vote.
The vote came after a last ditch effort by Republican Senator Chuck Grassley from Iowa filed an amendment to the Farm Bill that would require the Justice Department to “modify the definition of the term ‘hemp’ and make a determination as to whether cannabidiol [CBD] should be a controlled substance” under federal law.
Hemp legalization advocates responded by urging committee members to oppose the Grassley’s changes, which included tightening restrictions on farm subsidies, making only farmers and their immediate families eligible.
McConnell seemed to take Grassley opposition in stride, knowing his bill was likely untouchable: “It’s a landmark piece of legislation that will benefit farmers and communities throughout our country.”
Kentucky’s Commissioner of Agriculture also tweeted his response: “I STRONGLY oppose Senator Grassley’s Amendment.”
The Senate's farm bill still needs to be approved by the Senate Agriculture Committee and the full chamber.
“Politicians on both sides of the political aisle are recognizing that the cultivation and manufacturing of hemp in the United States is crucial to empowering farmers nationwide to generate new income streams and further grow our agricultural economy,” said Hemp, Inc. CEO Bruce Perlowin. “The movement toward the federal legalization of hemp is gaining momentum as more states pass hemp legalization laws and an increasing amount of policy makers support legalizing hemp on Capitol Hill.”
There are already now 40 states with legalized hemp.