The United States Senate voted last week to legalize hemp as part of a provision of the omnibus Farm Bill. If signed into law, the measure would legalize the plant for growth and production across the country. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) noted in support of passage that “consumers across America buy hundreds of millions in retail products every year that contain hemp, but due to outdated federal regulations that do not sufficiently distinguish this industrial crop from its illicit cousin, American farmers have been mostly unable to meet that demand themselves.” The Senate’s bill must now be reconciled with the version passed by the U.S. House of Representatives last month before reaching the President’s desk. This could prove daunting, as the two bills are far from alike and contain references to other hot-button political issues, like adjustments to the Federal Government’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Regardless of the political battles to ensue, advocates can take solace in the fact that the debate over effective marijuana policy has arrived at the doorsteps of power in America, with a most unlikely champion from Kentucky heralding the prospective benefits. The current Farm Bill expires on September 30, 2018 – watch this space for continued developments as that deadline approaches.
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