Wyden, Merkley Secure Provision to Legalize Hemp in Senate Farm Bill

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden today announced he and Sen. Jeff Merkley secured a provision in the Senate Farm Bill to legalize industrial hemp. Wyden worked with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to ensure their bipartisan Hemp Farming Act of 2018 was included in legislation released today. The Senate Agriculture Committee will officially consider the legislation on Wednesday, June 13.  

In April, Wyden, Merkley and McConnell introduced the bill with Rand Paul, R-Ky. The bipartisan legislation has since gained the support of an additional 24 senators. This step forward comes just days after the senators cheered the passage of their bipartisan resolution designating June 4-10, “Hemp History Week.”

The Hemp Faming 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.

“Hemp has proven itself as a job-creating growth industry with far-reaching economic potential. It’s just common sense that farmers in Oregon and across our country should be allowed to cultivate this cash crop,” Wyden said. “Our bipartisan legislation strikes America’s outdated anti-hemp laws from the books so American consumers can buy products made with hemp grown in America. I’m grateful to Sen. McConnell for his leadership in getting the Hemp Farming Act into the Senate Farm Bill and I’m proud to keep working with our bipartisan cosponsors – Senators Merkley and Paul – to pass our bill into law.”

“Selling hemp products in the United States while imposing restrictions on our farmers who wanted to grow it made no sense,” Merkley said. “This legislation does away with outdated, frustrating restrictions, and finally recognizes hemp as the agricultural product it is. This is good for jobs, good for our communities, and just common sense.”

The Hemp Farming Act of 2018 builds on the 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 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).

The Senate Farm Bill must now be approved by the full committee. Following approval, it will go the Senate floor for consideration.