The Fight For Federal Legalization Of Hemp Begins In Kentucky

Democrats and Republicans are coming together as the fight for federal legalization of hemp begins in Kentucky.

We’re at the dawn of a new era—or at least for residents of the Bluegrass State. As of now, the fight for federal legalization of hemp begins in Kentucky.

Bills, Bills, Bills

Hemp isn’t the same as cannabis. Its THC content is barely perceptible, and there’s literally no way for a person to get high from it. But still, it’s something.

As VICE’s Motherboard reported, hemp is used in over 25,000 products on the market. Many of these are common items, such as textiles, clothing, paper, and even food.

Moreover, hemp is also where cannabidiol (otherwise known as CBD) comes from, which has myriad health benefits.

The bill comes after a decades-long ban on cultivating the plant under the Controlled Substances Act in 1970. Now, more than forty years later, Kentucky Representative James Comer is spearheading the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2017.

As of now, this bill is backed by 16 lawmakers, including Republican senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul. And yes, you read that correctly. Republicans are teaming up with Democrats to help the bill go through the state House and the state Senate.

After the failure of two bills in 2015 to legalize hemp on a federal level, with any luck, Kentucky’s bipartisan efforts will set an example for the rest of the country.

With them, the fight for federal legalization of hemp begins in Kentucky, but it might be the animus for a new wave of thinking.

Final Hit: The Fight For Federal Legalization of Hemp Begins In Kentucky

So, what’s with the sudden bipartisanship? It turns out that Kentucky has had a longstanding relationship with weed. Even more conservative voters are lax when it comes to this particular kind of legislation.

“A lot of the older folks here remember their parents growing it on their farms,” said Representative Thomas Massie, who is one of the bills co-sponsors, in an interview with Motherboard. “There’s not this opposition from older conservative voters in Kentucky that you might see in states that aren’t familiar with hemp.”

Need evidence? Before Massie took up the mantle of co-sponsoring the bill, Rand’s father and former GOP 2012 presidential primary nominee Ron Paul was the sponsor.

So, what does the future of hemp cultivation look like for the state? According to lawmakers, very hopeful. It might be the state’s shot of reinvigorating their economy after the slump due to a drop in tobacco sales.

Because hemp plants need a similar environment as tobacco to grow and thrive, Kentucky’s climate is ideal for the crop.

And that’s where the real reason behind the push for hemp legalization lies: the money. In 2016, the hemp industry as a whole was estimated to be roughly worth $688 million.

With any luck, the bill would help revitalize the state’s economy, or at least pick up the slack where tobacco left off.

" J.E. Reich : J.E. Reich is a Brooklyn-based GRD staff writer and a former night/weekend editor at Jezebel. Their work has appeared in Slate, the Toast, the Forward, the Huffington Post, and elsewhere.."