McConnell, Paul introduce federal industrial hemp legislation

Industrial Hemp Farming Act introduced today in U.S. Senate

WASHINGTON (Feb. 14, 2013) — Sen. Rand Paul and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, both of Kentucky, on Thursday joined Oregon Democratic Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden in introducing legislation to allow American farmers to cultivate and profit from industrial hemp.

The Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2013 would remove federal restrictions on the domestic cultivation of industrial hemp.

RELATED: Kentucky Senate passes industrial hemp legislation, but bill’s future is murky

The Kentucky state Senate passed a bill earlier in the day to establish the framework to create an industrial hemp industry in Kentucky if the federal government makes it legal. Senate Bill 50 establishes oversight for Kentucky farmers to cultivate legalized industrial hemp. It now awaits a vote in the Kentucky House of Representatives.

The Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2013 would remove federal restrictions on the domestic cultivation of industrial hemp. Specifically, the bill would remove hemp from the Schedule I controlled substance list under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, and would define it as a non-drug so long as it contained less than 0.3 percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

Prior to World War II, Kentucky provided 94 percent of the nation’s industrial hemp. Today the U.S. is the world’s largest consumer of hemp, but it remains the only major industrialized country that bans farming the product. U.S. imports have consistently grown over the past decade – increasing by 300 percent over that period.

“The Industrial Hemp Farming Act paves the way to creating jobs for Kentucky,” Paul said. “Allowing American farmers to cultivate industrial hemp and benefit from its many uses will boost our state’s economy and bring much-needed jobs in the agriculture community. Today’s State Senate victory, coupled with the efforts Sen. McConnell and I are making here in Washington increase my confidence that they will soon payoff, to the benefit of Kentuckians.”

“I am proud to introduce legislation with my friend Rand Paul that will allow Kentucky farmers to harness the economic potential that industrial hemp can provide,” McConnell said. “During these tough economic times, this legislation has the potential to create jobs and provide a boost to Kentucky’s economy and to our farmers and their families.”

The Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2013 is the Senate companion bill to H.R. 525, which was introduced last week in the House with 28 original co-sponsors.

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