U.S. Senate Committee Schedules Hearing on Hemp

A Senate committee will discuss how best to facilitate the nation’s budding hemp industry in a hearing featuring a panel of agricultural leaders.

The U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry will hold its first hearing regarding the production of hemp and hemp-derived products on July 25. Committee chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) and ranking member Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) announced the hearing on July 17.

The hearing, titled “Hemp Production and the 2018 Farm Bill,” will feature testimony from a variety of department heads and agricultural leaders. One of the many panel members scheduled to go before the committee is Dr. Amy Abernethy, Principal Deputy Commissioner of Food and Drugs for the U.S Food & Drugs Administration (FDA).

“I am honored to be called by the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, & Forestry to testify next week (7/25) on “Hemp Production and the 2018 Farm Bill,” Abernethy stated in a tweet. “As FDA, we recognize how important the topics of hemp and cannabidiol (CBD) are to Americans.”

No agenda was declared for the hearing, but the hearing announcement did include a list of witnesses in two discussion panels. In addition to Abernathy, the following are scheduled to be witnesses during the hearing: Greg Ibach, Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Stephen Alexander Vaden, General Counsel for the USDA, and Alexandra Dapolito Dunn, Assistant Administrator at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention.

Other witnesses include Kentucky farmer Brian Furnish, Executive Director of National Hemp Association Erica Stark, and Darrell G. Seki, Sr., Tribal Chairman, Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians. The hearing is scheduled to be live webcast at ag.senate.gov.

The congressional hearing on hemp comes two days after the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs will meet to discuss marijuana banking issues on July 23. Last week, a House Judiciary subcommittee held the first-ever hearing on ending federal marijuana prohibition.

Senate hemp hearing


The Many Uses of Hemp

In December 2018, Donald Trump signed the 2018 Farm Bill. The bill lifted the longstanding ban on hemp and allowed farmers to grow, sell, and produce the plant commercially. It also clarified that hemp-derived CBD could be legally produced.

Hemp is a versatile and sustainable plant that was first documented in America in 1632. As a member of the Cannabis sativa L species of plant (the same as marijuana), hemp was listed on the Controlled Substances Act in 1970, effectively prohibiting the production for commercial use.

The seeds and stalk of the hemp plant are used to manufacture a number of products, including hemp foods, nutritional supplements, body care products, paper, building materials, textiles, bioplastic, and biofuels.

More recently in the U.S., the use of hemp for health has been revitalized. One of the most popular health supplements is hemp CBD oil. Research has shown that CBD oil supplements can help enhance the body’s naturally occurring endocannabinoids, increasing the body’s ability to promote homeostasis within its systems.

Another favorable trait of hemp is its value as a sustainable alternative to plastic and products that may cause harm to the environment. Hemp has been reported to be able to replace trees as a raw source of material for things like paper and wood. It is also thought to be able to reduce air pollution.

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