Loading

mcconnell

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director April 12, 2018

    United States Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), along with Oregon Democrats Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley introduced legislation today to remove low THC hemp from the federal Controlled Substances Act and amend federal regulations to better facilitate industrial hemp production, research, and commerce.

    The Hemp Farming Act of 2018 allows states, not the federal government, to regulate hemp production and allocates grant funding to federally subsidize industrial hemp cultivation. According to the Congressional Research Service, the United States is the only developed nation in which industrial hemp is not an established agricultural crop.

    Senator McConnell said: “Today, with my colleagues, I am proud to introduce the bipartisan Hemp Farming Act of 2018, which will build upon the success of the hemp pilot programs and spur innovation and growth within the industry. 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.”

    Senator McConnell previously shepherded federal reforms (Section 7606 of the Farm Bill) in 2014 permitting states to legally authorize hemp cultivation as part of academic research pilot programs. Over two-dozen states have established regulations permitting limited hemp cultivation under this provision. In 2017, state-licensed producers grew over 39,000 acres of hemp, up from roughly 16,000 acres in 2016.

    Separate legislation, HR 3530, is currently pending in the US House of Representatives to exclude low-THC strains of cannabis grown for industrial purposes from the federal definition of marijuana. That measure has 43 co-sponsors.

    To contact your members of Congress in support of this legislation, please click here!

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director February 3, 2014

    Congressional lawmakers last week approved language authorizing state universities and agriculture departments to move forward with programs to cultivate industrial hemp for research purposes.

    The language, included in the final version of the omnibus federal Farm Bill, was approved by the House of Representatives on Wednesday. The Senate is expected to sign off on the measure imminently.

    The provisions allow for the cultivation industrial hemp in agricultural pilot programs in states that already permit the growth and cultivation of the plant. Ten states — California, Colorado, Kentucky, Maine, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, and West Virginia — have enacted legislation reclassifying hemp as an agricultural commodity under state law.

    Hemp is a distinct variety of the plant species cannabis sativa that contains only minute (less than 1%) amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. Farmers worldwide grow hemp commercially for fiber, seed, and oil for use in a variety of industrial and consumer products, including food. However, US federal law makes no distinction between hemp and marijuana.

    Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) — who advocated on behalf of the language to the 2014 Farm Bill conference, the group federal of lawmakers charged with finalizing the House and Senate versions of the Farm Bill – called the bill’s expected passage “an important victory for … farmers.”

    A 2013 white paper published by the Congressional Research Service concludes: “[T]he US market for hemp-based products has a highly dedicated and growing demand base, as indicated by recent US market and import data for hemp products and ingredients, as well as market trends for some natural foods and body care products. Given the existence of these small-scale, but profitable, niche markets for a wide array of industrial and consumer products, commercial hemp industry in the United States could provide opportunities as an economically viable alternative crop for some US growers.”

    The agency notes that the United States is the only developed nation that fails to cultivate industrial hemp as an economic crop.

    Also last week, the American Farm Bureau Federation at its annual meeting approved a new policy resolution urging for the repeal of the classification of industrial hemp as a controlled substance under federal law stating, “At a time when small farms are innovating and diversifying to remain competitive, we should provide every opportunity to increase farm incomes and allow the next generation the ability to continue living off the land as their families have for generations.”

    Federal legislation to reclassify industrial hemp and to allow for its commercial cultivation remains pending in both the United States House and Senate.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director February 19, 2013

    For the first time in modern history, members of the United States Senate have introduced legislation in Congress to allow for the commercial production of industrial hemp. Last week, Senators Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Rand Paul (R-KY), and Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced Senate Bill 359 to amend the US Controlled Substances Act to exclude industrial hemp from the definition of marijuana. The measure grants state legislatures the authority to license and regulate the commercial production of hemp as an industrial and agricultural commodity.

    Senator McConnell is the Senate minority leader. He is a former opponent of hemp law reform.

    “I am convinced that allowing [hemp] production will be a positive development for Kentucky’s farm families and economy,” Sen. McConnell said in a statement. “The utilization of hemp to produce everything from clothing to paper is real, and if there is a capacity to center a new domestic industry in Kentucky that will create jobs in these difficult economic times, that sounds like a good thing to me.”

    Senate Bill 359 is the companion bill to House Bill 525, the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2013. That measure has 28 co-sponsors.

    Eight states — Colorado, Maine, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia — have enacted statutory changes defining industrial hemp as distinct agricultural product and allowing for its regulated commercial production. Passage of HR 525/S 359 would remove existing federal barriers and allow these states and others the authority to do so without running afoul of federal anti-drug laws.

    According to a Congressional Research Service report, “The United States is the only developed nation in which industrial hemp is not an established crop.”

    Additional information regarding HR 525/S 359 is available from NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’ here.

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Executive Director February 1, 2013

    In a statement published Thursday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), a previously outspoken opponent of marijuana law reform, did something surprising. He came out in support of allowing the production of industrial hemp.

    “I am convinced that allowing its production will be a positive development for Kentucky’s farm families and economy,” McConnell’s statement read, “The utilization of hemp to produce everything from clothing to paper is real and if there is a capacity to center a new domestic industry in Kentucky that will create jobs in these difficult economic times that sounds like a good thing to me.”

    The Senator cited his discussions with fellow Ketucky Senator Rand Paul and Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Come as being influential in his new position.

    It is worth noting, that as recently as last year, Senator McConnell was vociforus in his opposition to marijuana law reform. Replying to a constituent’s letter in 2012, McConnell stated that he was opposed to legalizing marijuana due to the “detrimental effects of drugs..[such as] short-term memory loss, loss of core motor functions, heightened risk of lung disease, and even death.”

    While he makes clear that he wants hemp regulated in a way “that does not compromise Kentucky law enforcement’s marijuana eradication efforts or in any way promote illegal drug use,” perhaps his new found support for hemp will become his “gateway” to supporting further rational marijuana policies.

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Executive Director March 14, 2012

    “Because of the harm that substances like marijuana and other narcotics pose to our society, I have concerns about this legislation. The detrimental effects of drugs have been well documented: short-term memory loss, loss of core motor functions, heightened risk of lung disease, and even death.”

    No, that is not a quote from 1936’s Reefer Madness, it came from the mouth of current Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and it happened in 2012.

    Prohibitionist arguments have always been quite laughable, the government originally warned of the dangers of reefer addicted jazz musicians and immigrants corrupting our youth and harming women. However, we’ve come a long way since the 1930’s and the fact that a high ranking elected official in the 21st century can say something so blatantly untrue with a straight face is disturbing at best. Centuries worth of use and countless volumes of research prove Senator McConnell’s statement to be nothing more than lies and scaremongering. Perhaps the good Senator should do some research of his own, if he did he’d find that inhaled cannabis has been shown safe and effective in trials using FDA’s own ‘gold standard’ method.

    As long as our representatives in Congress hold such archaic, patently false views on marijuana our efforts to end prohibition will forever be stymied. We need to hold our politicians accountable and if they continue to make statements such as these, they will lose our support come election time. Help us give Senator Mitch McConnell a #RealityCheck by tweeting your displeasure with his recent statements:

    @Team_Mitch: Centuries of use and decades of research say you’re wrong. Deaths from marijuana = 0. #RealityCheck

    More info and a link to the original constituent letter are available here.