The U.S. Senate on Tuesday unanimously and without amendment passed a resolution recognizing the economic potential of industrial hemp. The non-binding measure was passed in recognition of Hemp History Week, according to reporter Tom Angell’s investigation for Forbes.

This is the third year in a row that the U.S. Senate has adopted non-binding resolutions recognizing the value of hemp, though Congress has yet to fully legalize industrial hemp production.

According to the resolution, the global hemp market is estimated to consist of more than 25,000 products. The value of hemp products imported into the U.S. solely for manufacturing is estimated at $76 million. Hemp retail sales in the U.S. are estimated to be over $570 million. The resolution also states that the U.S. is the largest consumer of hemp products in the world and the only major industrialized country that restricts its farming.

Tuesday’s resolution was cosponsored by Sen. Mitch McConnell, who introduced a separate bill this session that would legalize industrial hemp nationwide. The past three years of vocal but non-binding support for industrial hemp from the Senate indicate the bill may have a good chance to pass. Already, nearly a third of the Senate has signed on to cosponsor the bill.

While Sen. McConnell has emerged as a staunch supporter of industrial hemp, he has been clear that he does not support legalizing cannabis.

“Since Kentucky’s earliest days, industrial hemp has played a foundational role in our agricultural history and economy. With our Hemp Farming Act of 2018, I believe that hemp can also be an important part of our future. Removing hemp from the federal list of controlled substances will give our farm communities the opportunity to explore the potential of this versatile crop. I am proud to join with farmers, processors and manufacturers across Kentucky to celebrate Hemp History Week as we work together on the plant’s growing future.” — Sen. Mitch McConnell, in Angell’s Forbes report

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