The farm bill died last week, and we’re still sorting out some of our feelings about it.
Between hefty cuts for food stamps and maintaining the status quo on big ag subsidies, that farm bill was kind of a jerk! But the bill also included a late amendment that would’ve helped pave the way for an industrial hemp industry in the U.S. The amendment passed by a vote of 225-200 in the House — but then, of course, the whole bill was scrapped, because the farm bill brought a knife to the gun fight that is Congress.
In its wake, there may not be a ton of bipartisan optimism for a new farm bill — but bipartisan hemp supporters are still seeing green, as in go, grow, and cash-money.
The farm bill amendment was actually a bit of a legislative redundancy: Its language was exactly the same as the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2013 that a bipartisan crew of legislators giddily introduced back in February.
So that House farm bill amendment was “the most significant sign of progress on the federal level that hemp advocates have ever seen,” writes Lydia DePillis at the Washington Post. “It might have a second life sooner than the rest of the House Farm Bill,” as Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) is making noises about tacking the amendment onto another agriculture-related bill, or pursuing another solo hemp bill altogether.
That would mean peace of mind for farmers in the newly weed-legal states of Washington and Polis’ Colorado, where some folks are already plowing ahead with hemp farming regardless of its federal legal status. And it could mean the impetus for a whole new industrial hemp industry in Kentucky, where a new law goes into effect this week that positions the state to start farming hemp ASAP if/when it’s legalized by the feds.
Oh, and in case all these cannabis jokes confused you, Gizmodo explains why you can’t get high from lighting up a bowl of hemp. You can, however, make a bowl out of hemp.