I recently emailed U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R), who represents my home state of Kentucky, about his feelings on industrial hemp. His office replied to me today and here is what he had to say on the issue, in part:
“On Feb. 14, 2013, I joined three of my Senate colleagues to introduce S. 359, the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2013. This legislation would amend the Controlled Substances Act in order to lift the federal prohibition on growing industrial hemp. Industrial hemp, which is defined as having a concentration of less than 0.3 percent tetrahydrocannabinol (or THC), cannot produce the physiological effects associated with marijuana and therefore is not a substance that requires regulation by the federal government.
“S. 359 has been referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, where it awaits further consideration. Likewise, on Feb. 6, 2013, my fellow Kentuckian and U.S. Representative Thomas Massie introduced H.R. 525 (the companion measure to S. 359 in the House of Representatives), which has been referred to two House Committees for additional consideration.
“Prior to its prohibition, industrial hemp was an important and useful crop in Kentucky, and is commonly used to make textiles, paper, lotion, cosmetics and other products in countries throughout the world, including Canada. Moreover, Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer has worked diligently to create the necessary licensing and regulatory oversight for industrial hemp as a commodity; on Mar. 27, 2013, this framework was approved overwhelmingly by the Kentucky General Assembly and the measure became law on April 7. Rest assured that as this debate continues into the 113th Congress, I will continue to support growers who wish to explore the potential economic benefits of industrial hemp.”
To many political observers, it looks like Rand Paul is already eyeing a run for the GOP nomination for President in 2016. Someone in the White House that supports industrial hemp – and drug policy reform in general – would be a huge boost to the prospects of actual reform on a federal level.
Time will tell about the political prospects of Senator Paul, as well as the prospects for industrial hemp.