A scene from the short film "Harvesting Liberty," about the return of hemp to Kentucky. (Photo by D. Hedden, provided by Patagonia)

Hemp Farming Act of 2018 introduced by Sen. Mitch McConnell

The bill, if successful, would end the debate that has picked apart the hemp plant

Hemp could be made whole again — and explicitly legal — under a new bill introduced Thursday by the leader of the U.S. Senate.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s Hemp Farming Act of 2018 aims to establish hemp as an agricultural commodity, protect state regimes, add crop insurance, and bolster research. And right off the bat, the bill quashes questions about whether those hemp-derived CBD-rich extracts are indeed legal:

“The term ‘hemp’ means the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of that plant, including the seeds thereof and all derivatives, extracts, cannabinoids, isomers, acids, salts and salts of isomers, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.”

The bill, if successful, would end the debate that has picked apart the hemp plant in piecemeal and end interpretations that hemp-derived extracts rich in cannabinol and other cannabinoids are illicit substances, hemp advocates say.

“Even though we believe that the Farm Bill language that said, ‘all parts of the plant’ (established legality for extracts), it could not be more clear that hemp, the plant, hemp extracts, hemp derivatives, hemp-derived CBD … they’ll all be made legal,” said Jonathan Miller, legal counsel for the U.S. Hemp Roundtable, an organization lobbying for more robust federal hemp laws.

The Hemp Farming Act of 2018 was co-introduced by Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore.

“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 country,” McConnell, R-Ky., said in a statement.

Watch: Sen. McConnell introduces the Hemp Farming Act of 2018

Learn more about cannabidiol in The Cannabist’s Special Report:

Part I – Forbidden medicine: Caught between a doctor’s CBD advice and federal laws

Part II – How advocates are inspiring congressional action on CBD legalization

Part III – With DEA digging in its heels on “marijuana extracts,” legality of CBD oil on trial in federal courts

Part IV – CBD research is going to the dogs in quest to legitimize pet products

Part V – CBD on the international stage: WHO committee delving into science, control status of cannabis compound

Part VI – Race for CBD medication breakthrough: Is pharma firm’s boon the hemp industry’s doom?

Part VII – Cannabinoids on local grocery shelves, but for how long?