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H.R.5485 / S.2667 - Hemp Farming Act

Senator Mitch McConnell speaking at an event

To amend the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946 to provide for State and Tribal regulation of hemp production, and for other purposes.

You might favor this bill if:
►  You believe Hemp, defined as cannabis with a THC content of 0.3% or less, should be removed as a schedule I drug. States should have the opportunity to become their own hemp regulators.

You might oppose this bill if:
►  You the believe the bill could open a pathway towards marijuana legalization, which you are against. The threat of the illicit drug trade associated with the cultivation of hemp/marijuana would not be in the public interest.

The Hemp Farming Act is a bipartisan bill which would legalize hemp as an agricultural commodity by removing it from the Schedule I controlled substances list. Hemp is derived from the cannabis plant, also referred to as marijuana, but has none of the psychoactive element of the cannabis plant. The legislation defines hemp as cannabis with less than 0.3% THC, THC being the principal psychoactive element in the plant. Hemp can be spun into usable fiber, which has a wide variety of commercial uses, including textiles, paper, clothing, biodegradable plastics, paint, insulation, biofuel, food, animal feed, among many other uses.

Schedule I drugs are defined as controlled substances that have high risk or potential to be abused, have no current accepted medical use in treatment in the U.S., and have a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision.

The legislation would give states and U.S. territories the opportunity to become primary regulators of hemp, allowing hemp researchers to apply for competitive federal grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Hemp farmers would be eligible to apply for crop insurance, which would protect their crops against losses due to natural disasters and declines in the prices of agricultural commodities.

Hemp farmers would need to follow a set of regulations set forth by the legislation and their State. This includes getting a licence from the state. Should a farmer violate any of these rules, the bill specifically prevents the federal government from stepping in, protecting the farmer. Violating the rules does come with penalties though; three violations in a five year period would disqualify you from producing hemp for the next 5 years, beginning on the date of the third violation.

The Hemp Farming Act builds upon the 2014 Farm Bill, which included a provision secured by Senator McConnell to legalize hemp pilot programs.

For far too long, the federal government has prevented most farmers from growing hemp ... As a result of the hemp pilot program, which I secured in the 2014 Farm Bill, Kentucky’s farmers, processors, and manufacturers have begun to show the potential for this versatile crop," said Senator Mitch McConnell. "Hemp has played a foundational role in Kentucky’s agricultural heritage, and I believe that it can be an important part of our future."

Even though Senator McConnell is a strict adversary of legalized marijuana, Sen. McConnell's home state of Kentucky established a Hemp Research Pilot Program since the 2014 farm bill.

“Here in Kentucky, we have built the best Industrial Hemp Research Pilot Program in the country and have established a model for how other states can do the same with buy-in from growers, processors, and law enforcement,” Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture Quarles said.

“Hemp has proven itself as a job-creating growth industry with far-reaching economic potential. It’s just common sense that farmers in Oregon and across our country should be allowed to cultivate this cash crop,” said Senator Wyden, the lead Democratic sponsor. “Our bipartisan legislation strikes America’s outdated anti-hemp laws from the books so American consumers can buy products made with hemp grown in America.”

Those who oppose the legislation argue that the legislation could lead to marijuana legalization, which most members of Congress still oppose.

“The threat of diversion into the illicit drug trade associated with the cultivation of hemp/marijuana would not be in the public interest,” the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) said. "Marijuana drug dealers will pay many times higher for hemp as a mix with higher grade marijuana to increase their profit than the hemp market could offer. There is no reliable field test to distinguish fiber-hemp from other varieties, therefore, law enforcement would be unable to arrest cannabis violators based on the required ‘probable cause’ standard."

Greg Ibach, Department of Agriculture Undersecretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs, has cautioned against moving too fast as he believes the Hemp Farming Act might do.

“Opening the door wide open nationwide, with no restrictions, may not be in the best interests of the hemp industry,” Ibach told Hemp Industry Daily. “We need to be careful so that we don’t kill the market for hemp by overburdening the market with supply before there is demand for it.”


Sponsored by: Rep. Comer, James [R-KY-1].

Cosponsored by: 4 Rep / 9 Dem.

See list of cosponsors.


Sponsored by: Sen. McConnell, Mitch [R-KY].

Cosponsored by: 17 Rep / 10 Dem / 2 Ind.

See list of cosponsors.

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