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McConnell Touts Hemp as Farm Bill Passes Committee
By The Associated Press
FRANKFORT - Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell hopes the Senate will vote before the July 4 recess to legalize the crop that comes from the same plant that produces marijuana.

The Senate Agriculture Committee approved the farm bill Wednesday, which includes a provision to remove hemp from a list of Schedule I controlled substances, making it legal for farmers to grow and sell it. Although far from becoming law, it's noted progress for an idea that has faced staunch opposition among conservative lawmakers.

McConnell says he has "won the argument" that hemp is not about marijuana. Now, he just needs it to become law, adding he is in a "well-situated" position to make that happen.

After the committee vote, McConnell said in a press release, “Supporting Kentucky’s agriculture communities, this legislation will provide certainty to thousands of farm families while also protecting important tools like crop insurance. After today’s important vote, Kentucky farmers are one step closer to having the opportunity to tap into the growing hemp market. I look forward to considering this legislation on the Senate floor so we can continue to see new products with Kentucky-grown hemp in our state and throughout the nation.”

The Farm Bill was drafted along traditionally bipartisan lines to ease its passage through the closely divided Senate, where Democrats have significant influence over most legislation.

Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., worked closely with top panel Democrat Debbie Stabenow of Michigan to produce the legislation, which aims to reduce fraud in the food stamp program but avoids controversial efforts to impose stricter work requirements and provisions to restrict eligibility.

The House measure, which failed last month because of an intra-GOP battle over immigration, promises greater job training opportunities for recipients of food stamps, a top priority for House leaders like Speaker Paul Ryan. Democrats say the House measure is poorly designed and would drive 2 million people off of the program. A re-vote is likely in coming weeks.

The current food and farm bill expires at the end of September and Roberts acknowledged that enacting the legislation this year will be difficult. A short-term extension is a likely option.

"To those who say passing a farm bill in this environment is a daunting task, I say together we can get it done," Roberts said. "We must embrace the attitude of our producers — optimism and ingenuity."



Published 12:21 PM, Wednesday Jun. 13, 2018
Updated 04:56 PM, Wednesday Jun. 13, 2018

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