Legislation that would legalize hemp as an agricultural product is getting fast-tracked through the Senate.
The bill, introduced last week by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), was placed on the Senate calendar on Monday.
The procedural move, known as Rule 14, allows it to skip over the committee process, paving the way for the legislation to be brought up on the Senate floor. The move doesn’t automatically guarantee that the bill will get a vote.
A spokesman for McConnell noted on Monday that they didn’t have guidance or an announcement about if, or when, the bill would come up.
The bill, known as the Hemp Farming Act of 2018, would legalize hemp, removing it from the federal list of controlled substances and allowing it to be sold as an agricultural commodity.
“By legalizing hemp and empowering states to conduct their own oversight plans, we can give the hemp industry the tools necessary to create jobs and new opportunities for farmers and manufacturers around the county,” McConnell said in a statement last week introducing the bill.
In addition to McConnell, Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) are supporting the legislation.
The bill would allow states to regulate hemp, as well as allow hemp researchers to apply for grants from the Agriculture Department and make hemp farmers eligible for crop insurance, according to McConnell’s office.
McConnell indicated late last month that he planned to introduce the bill.
WDRB noted that Kentucky is currently conducting a pilot program through the Agriculture Department to grow hemp, while a team at the University of Louisville is harvesting the crop to study its use as a biofuel and energy source.