Wyden, Merkley Announce Major Development on Hemp Legalization

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley announced their legislation to legalize industrial hemp is included in the 2018 Farm Bill, which was passed by the full Senate today. The Farm Bill now advances U.S. House of Representatives for consideration.

Wyden and Merkley worked with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to ensure the bipartisan Hemp Farming Act of 2018 was included in the final Farm Bill.The Hemp Farming Act clearly defines hemp as an agricultural commodity and removes it from the list of controlled substances. It 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. Wyden, Merkley, McConnell, and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky.,introduced the bill earlier this year.

“For too long, the outrageous and outdated ban on growing hemp has hamstrung farmers in Oregon and across the country,” Wyden said. “Hemp products are made in America, sold in America, and consumed in America. Now, hemp will be able to be legally grown in America, to the economic benefit of consumers and farmers in Oregon and nationwide.”

“Finally we are recognizing industrial hemp for the agricultural product it is,” Merkley said. “This is a cash crop that hasn’t been allowed to meet its full economic potential because of outdated restrictions. When I visited a hemp farm mid-harvest, I saw firsthand the enormous potential of this diverse crop under the limited 2014 farm bill. This full legalization provides economic opportunity for farmers across rural Oregon and rural America—good for jobs, good for our communities, and just good common sense.”

The legislation builds on the past successful bipartisan efforts by Wyden and Merkley, who in 2014 helped legalize hemp pilot programs. In 2016, Wyden secured clarification for farmers after three federal agencies issued new guidance that conflicted with current laws governing the growing and selling of industrial hemp. And Merkley has used his position on the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee to secure key, bipartisan victories for Oregon’s hemp farmers—winning one provision that prevents the Drug Enforcement Agency from going after hemp farmers in states where hemp is legal, and another that allows hemp farmers to transport legal industrial hemp between states.

The Hemp Farming Act is supported by 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).