Majority Leader McConnell welcomes to his office in the U.S. Capitol the president’s nominee for FDA Commissioner.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) met with U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner nominee, Dr. Stephen Hahn, today in his office in the U.S. Capitol.
During the meeting, Senator McConnell discussed his legislation to raise the nationwide tobacco purchasing age to 21 as well as the significance of hemp production in Kentucky. Senator McConnell informed Dr. Hahn of the importance of his “Tobacco-Free Youth Act,” which can address the current vaping epidemic by helping keep dangerous nicotine products out of hands of adolescents.
Senator McConnell also discussed the positive impact the legalization of hemp is having in Kentucky. He also reminded Dr. Hahn of some of the ongoing challenges — such as the need for a regulatory framework for CBD — he hears about from hemp farmers, processors and manufacturers in the state.
“I look forward to working closely with Dr. Hahn on several important issues for Kentucky,” said Senator McConnell. “As Senate Majority Leader, I consistently work with my colleagues in the Trump administration to advance Kentucky’s priorities. Like many Kentuckians who are taking advantage of hemp’s legalization, I am eager for FDA’s plans to create certainty for CBD products. Dr. Hahn and I also discussed my legislation to help keep dangerous nicotine products—including vaping devices—out of our children’s hands.”
Background: The youth vaping crisis is putting the health of our children at risk. To address this rampant and dangerous new trend, Senator McConnell introduced the “Tobacco-Free Youth Act,” a bipartisan federal bill with fellow tobacco state colleague, Virginia Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA). Once enacted, the legislation will raise the minimum purchase age for all tobacco and vaping products from 18 to 21 and help protect teens from the health risks associated with nicotine.
In 2004, Senator McConnell engineered the $10 billion “Tobacco Buyout,” which recognized farmers’ investment into tobacco while also providing them assistance to explore other opportunities. The legislation creating the Buyout helped many Kentucky farmers diversify and invest in other farming commodities. Now, Kentucky’s increasingly diverse agriculture economy supports good jobs throughout the state. Senator McConnell is especially proud of the recent growth of hemp production, which has become more popular since President Trump signed into law the McConnell hemp provision to fully legalize the versatile crop.
In December 2018, President Trump signed into law the 2018 Farm Bill, which included Senator McConnell’s language to legalize hemp as an agricultural commodity by removing it from the federal list of controlled substances. Earlier this year, Senator McConnell sent letters to several federal financial regulators encouraging them to help hemp farmers and producers explore the full economic opportunity of hemp. In 2014, in collaboration with agriculture leaders in Kentucky and throughout the nation, Senator McConnell secured language in that year’s Farm Bill to authorize hemp research pilot programs, which is what Kentucky continues to operate under today. He also used his position as a senior member of the Appropriations Committee to insert provisions in yearly appropriations bills to ensure hemp produced from the pilot programs could be transported, processed and marketed without interference from the federal government. Under the guidance of Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles and his predecessor, now-U.S. Representative James Comer (R-KY) — who introduced the hemp legalization provision in the U.S. House of Representatives — these programs have allowed Kentucky farmers to both research the plant and to demonstrate its potential as a viable cash crop.
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