Trump officially legalizes industrial hemp

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump fires intelligence community inspector general who flagged Ukraine whistleblower complaint Trump organization has laid off over 1000 employees due to pandemic: report Trump invokes Defense Production Act to prevent export of surgical masks, gloves MORE legalized the cultivation of industrial hemp Thursday when he signed a widespread, bipartisan farm bill aimed at boosting the agriculture industry. 

The fiber of hemp, a non-intoxicating derivative of the cannabis plant, is used to make a variety of products, such as cardboard, carpets, clothes, paper and more. 

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Hemp production and sales have historically been illegal under the same federal prohibition against marijuana. The farm bill only deals with industrial hemp and does not address recreational or medical marijuana.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOvernight Health Care: CDC recommends face coverings in public | Resistance to social distancing sparks new worries | Controversy over change of national stockpile definition | McConnell signals fourth coronavirus bill On The Money: Economy sheds 701K jobs in March | Why unemployment checks could take weeks | Confusion surrounds 9B in small-business loans 13 things to know for today about coronavirus MORE (R-Ky.) worked with Sens. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulGeorgia governor says he didn't know asymptomatic people could spread coronavirus McConnell: Impeachment distracted government from coronavirus threat Warren knocks McConnell for forcing in-person Senate vote amid coronavirus pandemic MORE (R-Ky.), Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleyOvernight Energy: Oil giants meet with Trump at White House | Interior extends tenure of controversial land management chief | Oil prices tick up on hopes of Russia-Saudi deal Oil giants meet at White House amid talk of buying strategic reserves Democrats ask EPA, Interior to pause rulemaking amid coronavirus MORE (D-Ore.) and Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenDemocrats ask EPA, Interior to pause rulemaking amid coronavirus Democrats say more unemployment benefits needed in wake of record unemployment claims Democrats fear coronavirus impact on November turnout MORE (D-Ore.) to introduce a bill to legalize hemp, which was ultimately included in the farm bill. 

"I used my very own hemp pen to sign the conference report, clearing the way for the House and Senate to pass legislation and send it to the president's desk. I'm proud that the bill includes my provision to legalize the production of industrial hemp. It's a victory for farmers and consumers throughout our country," McConnell said when the Senate advanced the farm bill earlier this month. 

The farm bill helps removes obstacles farmers face in growing hemp, including restricted access to banking, water rights and crop insurance. Hemp is easier to grow than cotton, corn or soybeans as it requires little water and can be viable in lower-quality soil that is not practical for other crops. 

The hemp provision is just one of several aspects of the farm bill meant to aid farmers as exports of agricultural products such as soybeans take a hit as Trump engages in a bitter trade war with China and other countries.