Hemp production may be on the verge of a comeback in Kentucky, where the non-potent cousin of marijuana once thrived.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell says the final version of the federal Farm Bill will allow limited hemp cultivation in pilot programs in states that permit the production.
Kentucky lawmakers passed a bill last year to allow industrial hemp's reintroduction but only if the federal government lifts its ban.
McConnell says the Farm Bill language he secured will allow state agriculture departments to oversee pilot hemp projects. Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer has promoted the crop, which can be turned into products ranging from paper to cosmetics.
Hemp was banned decades ago when the government classified it as a controlled substance related to marijuana. Hemp has a negligible content of the psychoactive compound that gives marijuana users a high.
House and Senate leaders are hopeful the long-delayed Farm Bill will pass. The fate of the legislation is more uncertain in the House, however, where a number of Republicans and Democrats have signaled their displeasure with the bill. The House is scheduled to vote on the Farm Bill Wednesday.