Hemp Cultivation Could Soon Be Legal Nationwide

The U.S. Senate overwhelmingly approved sweeping legislation Thursday governing U.S. food agriculture. The U.S. Farm Bill cleared the Senate by a vote of 86-11 and is now headed for reconciliation with the House.

Among the many provisions in the Senate’s version is one that would finally legalize industrial hemp cultivation nationwide. That provision was championed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has called current federal regulations that bar hemp cultivation “outdated.” McConnell has also proposed a stand-alone hemp legalization bill.

Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) said the legalization of industrial hemp cultivation is long overdue.

“Legalizing hemp nationwide ends decades of bad policymaking and opens up untold economic opportunity for farmers in Oregon and across the country,” Wyden said Thursday. “Our bipartisan legislation will spur economic growth in rural communities by creating much-needed red, white and blue jobs that pay well. I’m proud to have worked with my colleagues to get the bipartisan Hemp Farming Act through the Senate. Today marks a long-overdue, huge step forward for American-grown hemp.”

House Republicans rejected hemp legalization in their version of the Farm Bill. But, as the two versions head to conference, many are betting on McConnell’s political prowess to carry and ensure his hemp proposal remains.

Under the 2014 Farm Bill, states can implement pilot programs that allow hemp cultivation for limited research purposes. However, straight commercial hemp production is still prohibited under federal guidelines.

Read more about the new Farm Bill and its hemp provisions here