June 13, 2018

Wyden, Merkley Legislation to Legalize Hemp Moves Forward in Senate Farm Bill

Bipartisan legislation would remove hemp from the list of controlled substances and allow American farmers to grow it

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley announced their bipartisan legislation to legalize hemp passed the Senate Agriculture Committee today as part of the Senate Farm Bill.

Wyden worked with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to ensure their bipartisan Hemp Farming Act of 2018 was included in legislation released last week. Wyden, Merkley and McConnell introduced the bill in April with Rand Paul, R-Ky. The bill now has the support of another 25 senators. 

“Lifting the nonsensical ban on growing hemp in Oregon and nationwide reverses decades of policymaking that hurt farmers’ ability to innovate and grow jobs here at home,” Wyden said. “Our bipartisan legislation will help farmers unlock the full economic potential of industrial hemp, spurring economic growth and creating good-paying red, white, and blue jobs in rural communities across the country. Passing the Hemp Farming Act through the Senate Agriculture Committee marks a huge step toward allowing consumers to buy products made with hemp grown in America.”

“Outdated policies should not stand in the way of our American farmers growing a crop that is already used to make products sold all across the U.S.,” Merkley said. “With this farm bill, we are moving Oregon farmers into the 21st century—allowing industrial hemp to meet its potential to create jobs and strengthen the agriculture industry, as well as jump-starting the long-overdue process of reforming the Controlled Substances Act.”

The Hemp Faming Act defines hemp as an agricultural commodity and removes it from the list of controlled substances. The bill also gives states the opportunity to become the primary regulators of hemp production, allows hemp researchers to apply for competitive federal grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and makes hemp farmers eligible to apply for crop insurance.

The Hemp Farming Act of 2018 builds on past successful bipartisan efforts by Wyden, who in 2014 helped legalize hemp pilot programs and in 2016, secured clarification for farmers after three federal agencies issued new guidance that conflicted with current laws governing the growing and selling of industrial hemp. 

The Hemp Farming Act has the support of the American Farm Bureau Federation, National Farmers Union, Vote Hemp, the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) and the National Conference of State Legislatures (NSCL).

The Senate Farm Bill now goes to the Senate floor for consideration.