U.S. Senate Minority Leader Backs Hemp Farming Act of 2018

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer
Image: Chuck Schumer

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer has thrown his support behind the Hemp Farming Act of 2018.

The bill for the Hemp Farming Act of 2018 was introduced last month by  U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and currently has ten co-sponsors, not including Mr. Schumer. The bill seeks to:

  • Remove industrial hemp from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act
  • Enable states to be the regulators of hemp
  • Allows  researchers to apply for competitive federal grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
  • Enable farmers eligible to apply for crop insurance

“The federal government made a mistake when they labeled hemp as a controlled substance, putting it on par with dangerous substances like heroin,” said Senator Schumer, who wants to see laws changed as soon as possible. “I will work in lockstep with Senators McConnell and Wyden to make sure this bill passes the Senate.”

Senator Schumer says industrial hemp should have the full backing of the federal government, and without any interference.

His announcement was made at an event held at The Center for Discovery’s Michael Ritchie Big Barn Center in Hurleyville, Sullivan County, which is not only the largest employer in the county, but was also one of the first in New York State to grow hemp.

“To deny our hardworking farmers the opportunity to grow a crop like hemp, with so many practical and powerful applications, benefits no one,” said Patrick Dollard, The Center for Discovery President & CEO.

As well as taking advantage of the crop’s suitability for fiber and textiles, Mr. Dollard says the Center is also monitoring research into hemp’s potential medicinal benefits. Industrial hemp may be low in THC, but some strains can be very high in cannabidiol (CBD), a compound increasingly in the spotlight for its potential for treating and managing various conditions. CBD extracted from industrial hemp can also get around some of the legal challenges associated with sourcing it from medical cannabis strains; i.e. those high in THC.

Regardless of the stance of the feds, New York State is powering ahead on hemp. New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced in April that more than 60 applicants had been granted permits to participate in the state’s industrial hemp program. Approximately 3,500 acres of farmland in New York State has been approved for hemp research trials this growing season, up 43% on the 2,000 acres in 2017.