Rand Paul Calls to Legalize Hemp

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul (R) is on a campaign to legalize hemp, arguing it would put his home state’s economy at a competitive advantage. 

Last week, Paul wore a shirt made from hemp at the Kentucky State Fair. He suggested farmers could grow hemp to make products like paper, livestock bedding, and twine.

Kentucky’s Democratic Governor Steve Beshear said he is "open to the idea of industrial hemp, but I know law enforcement has some very serious concerns about the similarity to marijuana and what it might do to their enforcement actions." Paul said that proper regulation of permitting would address those concerns.

Rand Paul is also a co-sponsor of Senate Bill 3501, which would amend the Controlled Substances Act so that hemp is not defined as a drug. That bill was introduced by Oregon Senator Ron Wyden (D). Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Congressman Bernie Sanders (I-VT) have also co-sponsored. A similar bill has also been introduced in the House.

Libertarian-leaning voters could tip elections for Republicans in key swing states in the future, even some that seem unlikely now -- like Oregon. 

Karl Rove, who was George W. Bush’s chief strategist, said Oregon’s statehouse is split evenly among Democrats and Republicans, and “Republicans came within 15,000 votes of winning the governorship and yet it’s the most unchurched state in the union. So it’s a weird conglomeration. Oregon might be next.” 

Rove attributed this trend in part to growing libertarianism. “Oregon, as you may recall, was a battleground in 2000 and this time around there is a little bit of evidence that Obama has some difficulty there,” Rovesaid in Tampa on Monday. “I think part of it is that you do have this sort of weird element… centered around Portland that looks at Obama as a dangerous reactionary. But you also have something going out there, sort of this libertarian, Western, iconoclastic I’m-not-going-to-be-put-in-a-box. But something’s going on in Oregon.”


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