Senator Mitch McConnell wants to legalize hemp — the industrial kind, that is.
McConnell (R-KY) introduced the legislation on Thursday, joining forces with a pair of Democrats from Oregon, Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley.
The bill would allow American farmers to grow hemp without fear of punishment, reports NBC News. Currently, hemp is in the same category of illegal drugs as heroin, according to the federal government.
Also co-sponsoring the bill is Senator Rand Paul, also a Republican. McConnell released a statement about the new bill, saying:
“I am proud to introduce legislation … that will allow Kentucky farmers to harness the economic potential that industrial hemp can provide.”
The debate over legalizing hemp in Kentucky is contentious. Currently, the Chamber of Commerce supports legalizing the industrial plant, but some law enforcement groups believe the law is one step closer to legalizing marijuana in the state.
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer notes that Mitch McConnell sees hemp as an economic boost to his state, as well as the rest of the country. Unlike marijuana, industrial hemp has minimal amounts of THC content when compared to the cannabis plant.
And the Senate Minority Leader does have a point. He claims that “the legislation has the potential to create jobs and provide a boost to Kentucky’s economy and to our farmers and their families.”
In Canada, industrial hemp was made legal in 1998 following a 60-year absence. It has served to help revitalize timber towns in the province of British Columbia. Industrial hemp can be used to create paper, as well as several other products, including rope, cosmetics, and jeans.
Do you think that McConell’s co-sponsored bill to legalize industrial hemp will go through?
[Image by United States Senate ) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons]