Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced a surprisingly sensible bill this week that would end the prohibition on hemp farming at the federal level. The bill is co-sponsored by fellow Kentuckian Rand Paul (R) and Oregon’s Ron Wyden (D).
Heretofore, growing hemp has been illegal in the US because it is related to marijuana. The important difference, of course, is that you can’t get high from hemp. Even so, hemp has been classified as a controlled substance. It can be imported from abroad and it’s legal to own hemp, but it can’t really be grown domestically.
Obviously, this policy doesn’t make much sense. What’s odd is that it has a real chance of getting fixed, given that the Senate Majority Leader is backing it.
The reason for the change of heart? Economics.
It turns out Kentucky is one of the states that could have a major agricultural hemp industry if the law permitted it. This creates a potent constituency group that would stand to benefit if the ban was lifted.
As a result, Senator McConnell finds himself on the same side of the issue as the libertarian-ish Senator Paul and the Oregon Democrat who previously sponsored a bill to legalize actual marijuana, not just hemp.