While the Supreme Court’s hearings on gay marriage stole the headlines, Senator Rand Paul was doing something interesting in the Senate. Teaming up with his fellow Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell along with Oregon’s Democratic delegation, the increasingly influential senator pushed S.359, the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2013.
Together with its twin in the House, sponsored by Kentucky Congressman Thomas Massie, the bills seek to amend the Controlled Substances Act, which has outright prohibited the domestic raising of industrial hemp since 1970.
Hemp is marijuana, but grown for its fiber. And not potent in THC, so its recreational and medicinal value is nil. It was raised in colonial days, and by several of the Founding Fathers. I learned about it in Third Grade History. You probably did, too.
I wasn’t told that, if carefully cultivated, the same plant served other uses. There’s scant evidence that Thomas Jefferson and George Washington — two enthusiastic if not completely successful hemp growers — exhibited any interest other than curiosity and acquisitiveness in their hemp growing.
The legalization move in Congress is about, pardon the expression, high time. Hemp is a great product, and the idea that, for the convenience of suppressing its cultivation as a psychoactive substance, not only a whole species but a whole industry would be suppressed is typical federal overreach.
Why the concentrated Kentucky interest? Well, it was the Bluegrass State where hemp was historically grown after the Civil War.
The Oregon angle? You’d have to ask Senators Wyden and Merkley. But I’ve known a number of Oregonian cannabis activists who’ve talked as much about the virtues of industrial hemp as the delights of their “grass.” Perhaps the idea is blowing in Oregon winds.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.