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 McConnellOn The Money: Treasury rejects Dem subpoena for Trump tax returns | Companies warn trade war about to hit consumers | Congress, White House to launch budget talks next week | Trump gets deal to lift steel tariffs on Mexico, Canada Schumer calls on McConnell to hold vote on Equality Act House Dem cites transgender grandson in voting for Equality Act 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 PaulUS ambassador to Germany ruffles State Department with budget stand Overnight Defense: Congressional leaders receive classified briefing on Iran | Trump on war: 'I hope not' | Key Republican calls threats credible | Warren plan targets corporate influence at Pentagon Rand Paul: Bolton is a 'malign influence' MORE (R-Ky.), Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenOregon man sentenced after threatening to chop off Dem senator's tongue House to vote on retirement bill next week Hillicon Valley: Trump signs order to protect US networks from Chinese tech | Huawei downplays order | Trump declines to join effort against online extremism | Facebook restricts livestreaming | FCC proposes new tool against robocalls MORE (D-Ore.) and Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleyOvernight Energy: EPA watchdog finds Pruitt spent 4K on 'excessive' travel | Agency defends Pruitt expenses | Lawmakers push EPA to recover money | Inslee proposes spending T for green jobs Dems request investigation of lobbyist-turned-EPA employee who met with former boss This week: House to vote on bill to ban LGBTQ discrimination 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.