Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) was decried for attempting to mend fences with Senate leadership shortly after winning his seat as a tea party firebrand. He became colleagues with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, in a move that infuriated many conservative activists as well as his father’s radical libertarian supporters.
But it seems like Sen. Paul’s patience and prudence has finally paid off. After effectively lobbying Cocaine Mitch for years and building support for the idea throughout the state of Kentucky, Sen. Paul was able to get him to go on the record in favor of industrial hemp. The process took several years, but hemp legalization was included in the 2019 Farm Bill that was approved by the House on Wednesday by a 369-47 margin. It will be signed by President Trump and made into law.
At a time when farm income is down and growers are struggling, industrial hemp is a bright spot of agriculture’s future. My provision in the Farm Bill will not only legalize domestic hemp, but it will also allow state departments of agriculture to be responsible for its oversight
— Leader McConnell (@senatemajldr) December 11, 2018
Because of Sen. Paul’s work, Fortune Magazine estimates that “the U.S. cannabis industry could grow to $20 billion by 2022 from $800 million this year.” This is a truly sustainable industry that is helpful toward the environment and not contingent upon government subsidies and bailouts to remain thriving. The measure has even achieved bipartisan support in a day and age when that is few and far between.
“For too long, the outrageous and outdated ban on growing hemp has hamstrung farmers in Oregon and across the country,” Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden said. “Hemp products are made in America, sold in America, and consumed in America. Now, hemp will be able to be legally grown in America, to the economic benefit of consumers and farmers in Oregon and nationwide.”
While the rest of the farm bill may have been business as usual in Congress with crony kickbacks, massive spending hikes and hidden provisions, the industrial hemp portions of the measure should be lauded. Sen. Paul is showing that the system, while an incestuous mess of bureaucracy and corruption to be sure, can actually be used to accomplish some good.