On Thursday, the U.S. Senate voted 86-to-11 to pass its version of the 2018 Farm Bill, The Washington Post reports. The Farm Bill, which provides $428 billion in subsidies and other funding, includes language for the federal legalization of industrial hemp. However, some hurdles remain before the bill can be fully passed, despite overwhelming bipartisan support shown in the Senate.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) sponsored the hemp provisions. McConnell also sponsored provisions for an opt-in pilot program for hemp in the 2014 Farm Bill. Sen. McConnell spoke on the Senate floor on Thursday in support of hemp, televised on C-Span.
“Hemp will be a bright spot for our future. It’s full of economic potential for Kentucky, and the nation. So, Mr. President, we should pass the Farm Bill without delay.” — Sen. Mitch McConnell, in a speech on the Senate floor
The landmark vote is a strong sign of bipartisan favor for the long-stigmatized plant.
“The Senate’s overwhelming approval of the Farm Bill validates the importance of this crop and will make hemp more pervasive, including increased availability in health and wellness products, which are already being adopted by consumers around the world.” — Rory Millikin, co-founder and co-chairman for cannabisMD, in an email to Ganjapreneur
Meanwhile, the House’s version of the bill — passed without Democratic Party support last week — includes a contentious work requirement for food stamps. The Senate did not include those provisions, despite White House support for them, because the bill needed bipartisan support to pass. The disagreement means that some still fear Congress will be unable to pass the Farm Bill before the current bill expires on September 30.
Hemp legalization now awaits unification of the two bills in a joint Congressional conference, before being delivered to the President’s desk to be either signed or vetoed.