Senate fast-tracks bill legalizing hemp as agriculture product
© Greg Nash

Legislation that would legalize hemp as an agricultural product is getting fast-tracked through the Senate. 

The bill, introduced last week by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDems ready aggressive response to Trump emergency order, as GOP splinters Green New Deal Resolution invites big picture governing ‘Contingency’ spending in 3B budget deal comes under fire MORE (R-Ky.), was placed on the Senate calendar on Monday. 

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The procedural move, known as Rule 14, allows it to skip over the committee process, paving the way for the legislation to be brought up on the Senate floor. The move doesn't automatically guarantee that the bill will get a vote. 

A spokesman for McConnell noted on Monday that they didn't have guidance or an announcement about if, or when, the bill would come up. 

The bill, known as the Hemp Farming Act of 2018, would legalize hemp, removing it from the federal list of controlled substances and allowing it to be sold as an agricultural commodity. 

"By legalizing hemp and empowering states to conduct their own oversight plans, we can give the hemp industry the tools necessary to create jobs and new opportunities for farmers and manufacturers around the county," McConnell said in a statement last week introducing the bill. 

In addition to McConnell, Sens. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulCongress must step up to protect Medicare home health care Business, conservative groups slam Trump’s national emergency declaration The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Kidney Care Partners — Trump escalates border fight with emergency declaration MORE (R-Ky.), Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenHigh stakes as Trump, Dems open drug price talks Dem lawmaker: 'Trump's presidency is the real national emergency' Dems introduce bill to take gender-specific terms out of tax code to make it LGBT-inclusive MORE (D-Ore.) and Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleyThe border deal: What made it in, what got left out Lawmakers introduce bill to fund government, prevent shutdown Dems wary of killing off filibuster MORE (D-Ore.) are supporting the legislation

The bill would allow states to regulate hemp, as well as allow hemp researchers to apply for grants from the Agriculture Department and make hemp farmers eligible for crop insurance, according to McConnell's office. 

McConnell indicated late last month that he planned to introduce the bill. 

WDRB noted that Kentucky is currently conducting a pilot program through the Agriculture Department to grow hemp, while a team at the University of Louisville is harvesting the crop to study its use as a biofuel and energy source.