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Farm Bill Set to Legalize Industrial Hemp

Farm Bill Set to Legalize Industrial Hemp
PHOTO Carl Wycoff


Farm Bill Set to Legalize Industrial Hemp

A compromise on the 2018 Farm Bill is good for hemp, but better for food stamp recipients — if Trump signs it.

On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell whipped out a pen made out of the cannabis sativa plant and signed the 2018 Farm Bill, which includes a provision that will create a legal hemp industry nationwide, after it passed the Senate.

Ceremony aside, if McConnell is successful at politics, following a final vote in the House of Representatives, Donald Trump will also sign the same bill, the 2018 Farm Bill, with any kind of pen — magic marker will do — so that 42 million Americans can eat.

If Trump does that, a much smaller percentage of Americans will also be able to grow cannabis in order to turn it into rope, soap, seeds or CBD drops for lattes in Brooklyn. For you see, the Farm Bill that Mitch McConnell rhetorically and purely symbolically signed with a “hemp pen” also legalizes the cultivation of industrial hemp, but for political reasons, is at risk because of food stamps.

“Hemp” is a way of saying “cannabis sativa with 0.3 percent or less THC.” Since hemp is still cannabis sativa, for many years, hemp had the distinction of being the only plant Americans could buy, sell and import but could not grow.

That changed in some states under pilot programs authorized under an older Farm Bill, but thanks in part to the influence of McConnell — who sees hemp production as a decent alternative to tobacco, the main cash crop in Kentucky — this Farm Bill would remove hemp from the Controlled Substances Act.

The main purpose of the 10-year, $867 billion Farm Bill is funding the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), more popularly known as food stamps. About 80 percent of the Farm Bill funds food stamps, which is why the Farm Bill is arguably a much bigger deal in impoverished cities than it is in impoverished farmland (though since people are on food stamps in the country, too, maybe it’s a wash).

The president had pushed for a Farm Bill that included stricter working requirements for poor people receiving food subsidies. Lucky for them, the Senate didn’t listen, and the Farm Bill sent back to the House of Representatives for a vote includes the Hemp Farming Act and does not force people, mostly kids and the elderly, who receive an average of $271 from the government to go out and get jobs in order to eat.

The Hemp Farming Act has new resonance thanks almost entirely to CBD, which — thanks to cannabis-derived CBD — is being touted as a cure-all wellness product.

Will Trump also flash a hemp pen? Probably not, but he’ll probably sign the bill. But if he doesn’t, and American hemp farming remains illegal, it will be because of food stamps. 2020 is in less than two years.

TELL US, do you support the right to grow hemp in America?

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