Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced a bill Monday that would legalize hemp as an agricultural product.
According to a statement from McConnell’s office, the “Hemp Farming Act of 2018” will “legalize hemp as an agricultural commodity and remove it from the list of controlled substances.”
Sen. McConnell plans to introduce the bill, co-sponsored by Senators Rand Paul (R-KY) and Ron Wyden (D-OR), in the Senate when Congress returns to D.C. next week.
"Hemp has played a foundational role in Kentucky's agriculture heritage, and I believe that it can be an important part of our future," Sen. McConnell said in a statement.
"I believe hemp has a bright future in our state," McConnell told a group of hemp advocates in Kentucky. "It's now time to take the final step and make this a legal crop for every state that wants to file a plan with the U.S. department of agriculture."
While Hemp and marijuana are the same species of plant, hemp has a much smaller amount of THC, the psychoactive compound in marijuana.
McConnell said that there has been a better understanding recently that hemp is a "totally different" plant from marijuana.
"I think we've worked our way through the education process of making sure everybody understands this is really a different plant," he emphasized.
However, McConnell acknowledged that "some challenges remain today between the federal government and farmers and producers in Kentucky," and argued that his bill would "remove the roadblocks altogether" by "recognizing in federal statute the difference between hemp and its illicit cousin."