Merkley – McConnell Hemp Amendment Victory

Two politicians – Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senator Jeff Merkley do have their political differences, often finding themselves on the opposite sides in a number of policy issues. But last June 5, the two politicians found themselves on the same side for once – backing the cause of Hemp.

Hemp is pot’s industrial, THC sapped cousin – which is often used for rope, and has bound Merkley and McConnell together over policy. Both politicians found themselves backing an amendment to the Commerce, Justice, and Science appropriations bill that will reinforce a provision to the farm bill. Industrial hemp is a federally controlled substance but legal in some states – and this amendment seeks to prevent federal funds from being used to undermine the language in the farm bill that allowed colleges and universities to study the substance.

McConnell states that the provision will help prevent legal hemp seeds secured by the Department of Agriculture and used for legal pilot programs from being blocked by DEA or other federal agencies in the future. Furthermore, he said that the legal hemp pilot programs authorised by the legislation could help boost the economy and result to future jobs.

At the same time, Merkley made the case that the US is the only country that prohibits the cultivation of industrial hemp, in spite of its many uses.

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Although industrial hemp comes from cannabis – which is the same plant that produces marijuana, it is not the same as the latter. But this fact is not lost among the senators. Democrat Jon Tester of Montana stated that industrial hemp is not the stuff you smoke, and if so, one has to smoke 80 pounds of it to have any effect.

All in all, the House Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations Bill included two amendments related to industrial hemp farming – and both passed with strong, bipartisan support. The amendments reduce harmful federal regulations, respect state rights, and simply requires the Department of Justice to comply with existing law.