Bennet, Gardner co-sponsor bipartisan bill to legalize hemp | TheFencePost.com

Bennet, Gardner co-sponsor bipartisan bill to legalize hemp

-Bennet and Gardner

WASHINGTON — Colorado U.S. Senators Michael Bennet, D-Colo., and Cory Gardner, R-Colo., this week cosponsored the bipartisan Hemp Farming Act of 2018, which would legalize and clearly define hemp as an agricultural commodity and remove it from the list of controlled substances. The legislation also would give states the opportunity to become the primary regulators of hemp, allow hemp researchers to apply for competitive federal grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, ensure growers in the West can access water, and make hemp farmers eligible to apply for crop insurance.

"It's past time for Washington to recognize the growth of hemp as an agricultural commodity and legalize it nationwide," Bennet said. "This bipartisan legislation builds on the successful pilot program we created in the 2014 farm bill, eliminating federal barriers and providing certainty for states and hemp growers. We'll continue working with Senate leadership on behalf of Colorado's hemp farmers and entrepreneurs to pass this bill."

"Removing industrial hemp from the Controlled Substances Act is a commonsense move which would create jobs and get the government out of the way of Colorado's farmers and agricultural industry," Gardner said. "Hemp has the potential to be a major boon to Colorado agriculture, giving farmers another viable and profitable option for their fields."

"As the sponsor of establishing hemp regulations in 2013 and various measures since and actually becoming a grower in 2017, I am thrilled that Colorado is leading the nation in this burgeoning new industry," Colorado State Sen. Don Coram said. "The only road block has been the federal status of being a schedule one substance. Senator Bennet and Senator Gardner have been champions for the hemp industry. Their joint effort on the new proposals will be the culmination of years of effort that is the major piece needed to be successful in this new endeavor."

"We are excited to learn that Senators Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner are stepping up to co-sponsor The Hemp Farming Act of 2018," Montrose Economic Development Corporation Executive Director Sandy Head said. "When passed, this bill will have a tremendous economic impact our agriculture sector and our economy as a whole. It will remove the barrier to financing for hemp farmers, manufacturers and entrepreneurs and will allow for the development of innovative technology using hemp which in turn will lead to job creation. There is tremendous opportunity for hemp here on the Western Slope, and their leadership and support is greatly appreciated."

In 2017, Bennet and Gardner introduced the Hemp Water Rights Act to ensure farmers across the west can use the water they own through private water rights to grow industrial hemp in states where it is legal. The bill's language was included in the FY18 Senate Energy and Water appropriations package. Bennet has also called on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to make clear that the federal government will not interfere with the cultivation, transportation, processing, sale, or use of industrial hemp as authorized by the 2014 farm bill, and not act against financial institutions that handle related funds.