Kentucky Sens. Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul have announced that they will co-sponsor legislation that would allow American farmers to grow hemp legally.
Hemp is a non-drug variety of the cannabis plant — the marijuana plant — used for a range of consumer products, including rope, fabric, paper, soap and food. The bill would remove low-drug content hemp from federal classification as a Schedule I controlled substance.
The Republican pair is joined by “Oregon Democratic Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden in introducing legislation to allow American farmers to cultivate and profit from industrial hemp,” according to a statement from McConnell’s office.
“I am proud to introduce legislation with my friend Rand Paul that will allow Kentucky farmers to harness the economic potential that industrial hemp can provide,” the Senate minority leader said in the statement. “During these tough economic times, this legislation has the potential to create jobs and provide a boost to Kentucky’s economy and to our farmers and their families.”
A bipartisan House version of the bill was introduced last week with 28 co-sponsors.
In announcing the bill, Kentucky Rep. Thomas Massie said legalizing hemp would provide a new crop option for his family farm.
“My wife and I are raising our children on the tobacco and cattle farm where my wife grew up,” the Republican said in his statement. “Tobacco is no longer a viable crop for many of us in Kentucky and we understand how hard it is for a family farm to turn a profit. Industrial hemp will give small farmers another opportunity to succeed.”