The Cannabis Catch-Up: Will The Feds Legalize Hemp Cultivation

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Photo Credit: Steve Helber

Vermont legalized the cultivation of hemp in 2013 and several states have followed suit in the years since.

One of those was Kentucky, the home state of U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky). The Bluegrass State legalized the plant in 2014 and and now ranks third in the country for the most acres of hemp under cultivation. And wouldn’t you know it, McConnell is reportedly ready to allow all states to decide whether to legalize the stuff — even though it’s still illegal on the federal level. He wants to include a provision in this year’s farm bill to leave it up to states to create their own programs.

“Hemp has played a foundational role in Kentucky’s agricultural heritage, and I believe that it can be an important part of our future,” McConnell said on Monday, according to Politico. “I believe that we are ready to take the next step and build upon the successes we’ve seen with Kentucky’s hemp pilot program.”

Hemp has incredible utility, and in Vermont, production has skyrocketed as interest grows in cannabidiol (CBD), a hemp extract considered to have medicative qualities. Federal legalization would eliminate the threat of law enforcement action against growers, but could also have other impacts on Vermont’s hemp market. The farm bill must be passed by the end of September.

Here are some other stories about cannabis we read this week:

March 28: Looking forward to July 1, when weed will be legal in Vermont? You might want to make sure your landlord is chill before you invest in a grow setup. [Jess Aloe, Burlington Free Press]

March 28: A lawsuit involving an Addison County hemp grower and the Vermont Hemp Company will be allowed to proceed, a judge ruled. But the judge also tossed an individual liability claim against VHC’s founder and CEO, Joel Bedard. [TG Branfalt, Heady Vermont]

March 28: The creator of Blue Moon beer is trying his hand at cannabis — not alcohol — infused drinks. You’ll have to head to Colorado to get a taste. [Trevor Hughes, USA Today]

March 29: Iowa’s got a new cash crop and it ain’t corn. A company called Med Pharma is opening the state’s only licensed medical cannabis facility, in Des Moines. You’d think they’d have come up with a less corporate-sounding name. [Megan Stewart, KMTV]

March 30: There’s already a cannabis clash out in California. A group of artists and the Oakland City Council have thwarted a bid by a marijuana-related real estate firm to evict artists living in rent-controlled apartments from a building the company wanted to use for weed cultivation. [Thomas Fuller, New York Times]

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