Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) inserted language into a spending bill on Thursday directing the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to develop technology that can distinguish hemp from its “illicit cousin” marijuana.
The provision, which was attached to legislation to fund the Departments of Interior and Commerce for Fiscal Year 2020, is meant to support hemp manufacturers and regulators who must ensure that the crop is at or below a 0.3 percent THC content—the legal definition of hemp under the 2018 Farm Bill.
McConnell championed a measure in the wide-ranging agriculture legislation that federally legalized hemp and its derivatives, and he’s since devoted significant efforts to securing protections for the industry. For example, he backed provisions added to a separate appropriations bill last week that provides funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture to implement hemp regulations.
“I stand ready to work with Kentucky’s hemp producers to address whatever challenges arise as they explore the full potential of this remarkable crop,” McConnell said of his latest provision. “Ensuring law enforcement can differentiate between industrial hemp and its illicit cousin is critical, and I’ll continue working with the DEA and other federal agencies so hemp can be treated the same as any other legal commodity.”
The measure, according to a McConnell press release, directs DEA to “to identify or develop on-the-spot field testing technologies” that would “enable law enforcement to distinguish between hemp and marijuana.”
DEA said in March that it was soliciting help to develop a device that can “provide specificity” in telling the cannabis cousins apart.
Published: September 26, 2019