While dawning an industrial hemp shirt, Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) testified before his state's Senate Committee Monday regarding Senate Bill 50. SB 50, as Gregory Hall from the Courier-Journal reports, was passed by the Agriculture Committee and will be held for consideration by the larger body later this week.
Though hemp legalization has a long and potentially deadly road ahead of it through Kentucky's House of Representatives, Senator Paul's words were both pragmatic and substantive. As he says in the video, "It's a crop that's legal everywhere else in the world except for the United States." As he has done in previous years, Paul pledged to help end the federal prohibition of hemp, or implement federal waivers, which would allow licensed Kentucky farmers a legal avenue to cultivate the controversial crop. Tweet quote: Tweet
Sponsored by Paul Hornback (R-Shelbyville), SB 50 also outlines a minimum planting requirement of 10 acres to ensure that only serious growers take advantage of any potential waivers. Nevertheless, critics contend that the THC quantities in hemp (less than one percent) are comparable to its cousin, Cannabis. Yet facts persist that any such use of hemp would be similar to getting drunk off of non-alcoholic beer -- essentially impossible.
Hemp was made illegal in 1937 under the "Marijuana Tax Act" and has remained so ever since. It is categorized as a Schedule I controlled substance by the DEA, in the same class as other illegal substances like heroin. A similar push towards legalization was made last year in the form of Senator Ron Wyden's (D-Oregon) amendment to the "Agriculture Reform, Food ,and Jobs Act of 2012." The amendment was shot down in June because it would have required amending the Controlled Substances Act, a venture there seems to be little stomach for in Washington. Tweet stat: Tweet
Even though Senator Paul's endorsement of industrial hemp yesterday may prove futile in Kentucky, the national dialogue surrounding hemp could likely tip the scales in favor of legalization in coming years, especially considering recent action in states like Colorado and Washington. Whether or not the distinction between hemp and Cannabis can be made legislatively has eluded lawmakers for almost a century, but perhaps the economic and agricultural benefits of hemp will outweigh fears of abuse. Tweet article: Tweet