On Thursday, we received an email with the same subject line at this one “Are you sitting down?” You can never tell if it will be a good thing or a bad thing. It this case it was some amazing news. The email let us know about an upcoming statement on industrial hemp production in Kentucky by U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and it was expected to be positive. Less than an hour later, a statement was posted on the front page of Republican leader Senator McConnell’s official web site:
“After long discussions with Senator Rand Paul and Commissioner James Comer on the economic benefits of industrialized hemp, I am convinced that allowing its production will be a positive development for Kentucky’s farm families and economy. Commissioner Comer has assured me that his office is committed to pursuing industrialized hemp production in a way that does not compromise Kentucky law enforcement’s marijuana eradication efforts or in any way promote illegal drug use. The utilization of hemp to produce everything from clothing to paper is real and if there is a capacity to center a new domestic industry in Kentucky that will create jobs in these difficult economic times that sounds like a good thing to me.”
Sen. McConnell’s statement of support for hemp production in Kentucky is a major boost for Commissioner Comer’s legislation in the Kentucky General Assembly. Senate Bill 50 will be heard in the Senate Agriculture Committee on Feb. 11, 2013. In unprecedented bipartisan cooperation, U.S. Representatives John Yarmuth (D-KY 3rd District) and Thomas Massie (R-KY 4th) are confirmed to testify alongside U.S. Senator Rand Paul in support of the bill. Sen. Paul cosponsored legislation in the Senate with Sen. Wyden of Oregon in the 112th Congress and they are expected to introduce legislation again very soon. Rep. Massie will be introducing legislation previously sponsored by Rep. Paul in the House likely within the coming week.
Juliet Eilperin, author of the front page Washington Post story “Hemp legalization effort gathers steam,” asked the this question on Twitter: Now that Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) has endorsed legalizing #hemp, isn’t the debate over now? The debate isn’t over until Congress passes legislation ending the federal ban on hemp farming but Sen. McConnell’s support was certainly a game changer.
In addition to the legislation in Kentucky and other states this legislative season, Vote Hemp will also continue to work with Congress to get the Industrial Hemp Farming Act passed to enable the farming and processing of hemp in the U.S. once again. Please be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to stay up with the latest on this quickly developing issue!
Vote Hemp is a national, single-issue, nonprofit organization dedicated to the acceptance of and free market for industrial hemp, low-THC oilseed and fiber varieties of Cannabis, and to changes in current law to allow U.S. farmers to grow the crop.