US Congress legalises industrial hemp cultivation

US Congress legalises industrial hemp cultivation

Alison Ruks promotes Hemp products to provide joint relief and medicinal use for dogs at the Cannabis World Congress in Los Angeles. (AFP File Photo)

The US Congress on Wednesday approved the legalisation of large-scale hemp cultivation and its removal from a list of controlled substances.

"This is the culmination of a lot of work by a number of us here in Washington but really the victory is for the growers, processors, manufacturers and consumers who stand to benefit from this growing market place," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said.

The measure was supported by both Republicans and Democrats who argued it was an opportunity for American farmers.

It appears in a major law on agriculture that was adopted by a clear majority in the House of Representatives (369-47) after comfortably passing the Senate (87-13) the day before.

The law has not yet been signed by President Donald Trump.

"I'll be happy to loan him my hemp pen for the occasion," joked McConnell, a conservative from the state of Kentucky who had vigorously defended the measure after already pushing for the authorisation of pilot programmes in 2014.

The measure "legalises hemp as an agricultural commodity" and removes it from the controlled substances list, while allowing researchers to apply for federal grants and makes hemp eligible for crop insurance, McConnell said.

This "will encourage new opportunities for struggling farmers and their families, new products... and new jobs," he said.