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Legislation to Legalize Hemp Moves to Senate Floor Vote in Farm Bill

Nicole Erwin

The U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee has passed it’s version of the Farm Bill with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s provisions to remove hemp from a list of Schedule 1 controlled substances.

McConnell’s Hemp Farming Act of 2018 legalizes the growing of hemp and also allows hemp cultivators to receive federal crop insurance. Lawmakers made amendments during Wednesday's Agriculture Committee meeting and passed the revised version of the bill with only one dissenting vote from  Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa.

“Today’s bill would allow any snake oil salesman to market and sell any CBD product as a dietary supplement without any regulatory controls whatsoever,” said Grassley.

CBD or cannabidiol is oil extracted from hemp. Grassley filed an amendment to the Farm Bill to require the Justice Department to modify the definition of the term ‘hemp’ to determine if CBD should be controlled by federal law.

McConnell said he has included guidance from the Justice Department and FDA in the bill. But declined to include suggestions that would undermine the premise of the bill.

“Hemp and its derivatives should be a legal agriculture commodity just as it was in the United States for many, many years,” McConnell said.

A full Senate vote on the bill is expected to take place before July 4.  

Ag Committee Chair Pat Roberts in his closing remarks said “this is not the best possible bill but rather this is the best bill possible, I am proud and stand by the work conducted here by the committee.”

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