Here’s the statement out of his press office
FRANKFORT, KY – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture Ryan Quarles (R-KY) announced today the impending introduction of legislation in the United States Senate to support Kentucky’s hemp industry. The Hemp Farming Act of 2018 will legalize hemp as an agricultural commodity and remove it from the list of controlled substances.
Senator McConnell took the first step to support hemp in 2014 by using his leadership position in the Senate to spearhead a provision to legalize hemp pilot programs in the Farm Bill. Since then, the research has shown the potential of hemp as an agricultural commodity.
“Hemp has played a foundational role in Kentucky’s agricultural heritage, and I believe that it can be an important part of our future,” Senator McConnell said. “I am grateful to join our Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles in this effort. He and his predecessor, Jamie Comer, have been real champions for the research and development of industrial hemp in the Commonwealth. The work of Commissioner Quarles here in Kentucky has become a nationwide example for the right way to cultivate hemp. I am proud to stand here with him today, because I believe that we are ready to take the next step and build upon the successes we’ve seen with Kentucky’s hemp pilot program.”
“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,” Commissioner Quarles said. “I want to thank Leader McConnell for introducing this legislation which allows us to harness the economic viability of this crop and presents the best opportunity to put hemp on a path to commercialization.”
The Hemp Farming Act of 2018 will help Kentucky enhance its position as the leading state on hemp production. It builds upon the success we have seen through the hemp pilot programs by allowing states to be the primary regulators of hemp, if the U.S. Department of Agriculture approves their implementation plan. This legislation also will remove the federal barriers in place that have stifled the industry, which will help expand the domestic production of hemp. It will also give hemp researchers the chance to apply for competitive federal grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture – allowing them to continue their impressive work with the support of federal research dollars.
Senator McConnell plans to introduce the bill in the Senate, with Senator Rand Paul and a bipartisan group of members, following this state work period.
The Washington Post Report
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said he will introduce a bill removing hemp from the federal government’s schedule of controlled substances, renewing an effort that has gotten some bipartisan support in recent years — including from McConnell, though never quite so enthusiastically.
“Hemp has played a foundational role in Kentucky’s agricultural heritage, and I believe that it can be an important part of our future,” McConnell said in a statement released by his office. He announced the imminent filing of the bill in Frankfort, the state capital, alongside Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles.
Industrial hemp is a type of cannabis that looks similar to marijuana but contains negligible amounts of the intoxicating component THC. Hemp fibers can be used to make rope, cloth and paper, while hemp oil can be used in cosmetics, food, paper and other products.
McConnell has been an advocate of hemp cultivation for at least four years. In 2014, he backed a provision in that year’s farm bill to allow for a hemp cultivation pilot program in his home state, and the following year he sponsored a hemp legalization bill introduced by Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.). Paul has played a central role in persuading McConnell to become a proponent for the hemp industry.
With McConnell now a lead sponsor and significant bipartisan support secured for hemp legalization, the effort could find new success this year — although McConnell announced no immediate plans to bring the measure to the Senate floor.
The U.S. Senate’s top leader said Monday he wants to bring hemp production back into the mainstream by removing it from the controlled substances list that now associates it with its cousin — marijuana.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told hemp advocates in his home state of Kentucky that he will introduce legislation to legalize the crop as an agricultural commodity. The versatile crop has been grown on an experimental basis in a number of states in recent years.
“It’s now time to take the final step and make this a legal crop,” McConnell said.
Kentucky has been at the forefront of hemp’s comeback. Kentucky agriculture officials recently approved more than 12,000 acres (4,856 hectares) to be grown in the state this year, and 57 Kentucky processors are helping turn the raw product into a multitude of products.
US News also has the report