Now that Kentucky has become the latest state to embrace industrial hemp, President Obama should seize the moment to endorse the concept. It would be a bipartisan move to improve the country.
The federal government continued opposition to allowing American farmers to grow industrial hemp is an illogical and outdated relic from our insane drug war. The sole reason hemp is prohibited is that it technically is the same species as marijuana, but only in the way a gray wolf is technically the same species as a Shih Tzu. Hemp can’t get people high. It is purely a useful agricultural product that serves as a source of fiber, food and oil.
The fact that industrial hemp has been cultivated for years in countries like Canada, France, UK, and Germany proves it can easily be grown without interfering with laws prohibiting marijuana use.
Previously, it may not have made sense for a Democratic President to back industrial hemp because the issue would have gone nowhere or opened them to idiotic attacks about being “soft on drugs.” However, the political dynamics around this issue have changed dramatically in the last few months.
Recently, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has thrown his support behind helping local farmers gain access to this useful crop. McConnell is arguably the most powerful Republican in Washington. Now that hemp has his support, it can simply be seen as non-controversial and as a bipartisan step to helping family farmers.
Obama has been focused on trying to get bipartisan agreement on big issues like immigration and gun control, but that doesn’t mean he should ignore the smaller issues that would have a positive impact. This is one issue where the Republican leadership clearly has a good idea. Obama should change his position to join with McConnell in a bipartisan move to adopt this smart policy.
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