McConnell announced plans to introduce The Hemp Farming Act of 2018, which would remove hemp from regulation as a controlled substance and treat it as an agricultural commodity.
Right now, no state grows more hemp than Colorado, and federal legalization could prove bountiful for growers and those who can farm out their expertise elsewhere.
Currently, hemp businesses across the U.S. operate under a smattering of federal protections — via the Agricultural Act of 2014, better known as the Farm Bill, which expires this year, and via appropriations riders. Those protections are even stronger in Colorado, which established an industrial hemp program in 2013 as a result of voters legalizing adult-use cannabis.
"I think (federal hemp legalization) can be huge because Colorado is already set up in a better situation than any other state," said Morris Beegle, founder and president of the Colorado Hemp Company.
Hemp, a low-THC cousin of marijuana that was once widely grown across the United States, can be used to produce medicine and to make commercial items such as food, car parts, bio-fuels, animal feed and textiles.