Hemp May Become Legal

Farm Bill could remove plant’s controlled-substance status, keep food-stamp program intact
Photograph: Shutterstock

Update: The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Senate-approved version of the Farm Bill late in the afternoon on Dec. 12. President Donald Trump signed it into law on Dec. 20.

WASHINGTON -- In devising the latest version of the Farm Bill, U.S. senators took another step toward making hemp—a nonpsychoactive relative of cannabis—legal as an industrial crop, while at the same time, keeping intact food-stamp programs that 40 million American families rely on, according to the The Washington Post.

On Dec. 11, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who openly supports the hemp-legalization measure, said the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, or Farm Bill, would include a measure to take hemp off the federal list of controlled substances, allowing for the industrial farming of the cannabis-related plant. The Senate voted unanimously to pass its latest version of the measure by a vote of 87-13, according to NACS, Alexandria, Va., saying that the U.S. House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on the updated measure this week.

The $900 billion Farm Bill would also give states the opportunity to regulate hemp production, allow hemp researchers to apply for competitive federal grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and make hemp eligible for crop insurance, according to the Post, which cited information from McConnell’s office.

Despite pressure from conservative lawmakers, the latest version of the bill does not alter the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). In one version of the bill, congressional Republicans would have forced states to impose work requirements on recipients between the ages of 49 to 59, as well as impose work requirements on parents with children ages 6 to 12, among other changes, the Post reported.

More than 119,000 c-stores accept SNAP benefits, NACS said.

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