Ky.’s senators blocked in effort to legalize hemp

By BRUCE SCHREINER, Associated Press

 

 

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky’s U.S. senators suffered a setback Thursday in their efforts to re-establish industrial hemp as a legal crop, but they vowed to continue their campaign after getting blocked as they tried to attach hemp language to the Senate farm bill.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Rand Paul said they would oppose the Senate farm legislation.

Their amendment would have removed federal restrictions on the domestic production of industrial hemp. The crop once flourished in Kentucky until it was banned decades ago when the federal government classified it as a controlled substance related to marijuana.

Hemp has a negligible content of THC, the psychoactive compound that gives marijuana users a high.

The push by McConnell and Paul to legalize industrial hemp comes after Kentucky’s legislature passed a bill this year to allow the crop to be reintroduced in the Bluegrass State, but only if the federal government lifted its prohibition on the plant.

"Although we’re disappointed in the lack of consideration of our industrial hemp amendment, it is only the beginning of our legislative efforts," the Republican U.S. senators said in a joint statement. "We are committed to continuing to look at all options to win approval of this important legislation for job creation in Kentucky."

McConnell and Paul blamed majority-Senate Democrats for blocking consideration of additional amendments to the five-year farm bill, including their hemp proposal.

"This year’s Senate farm bill is in need of serious improvement and the refusal to allow better ideas and more sensible allocations of taxpayer dollars to be considered is very disappointing," McConnell and Paul said. "We will be opposing the Senate farm bill as a result."

The Courier-Journal first reported the senators’ reaction to the hemp amendment’s setback.

The farm bill advanced on a 75-22 procedural Senate vote Thursday that sets up a vote to pass the measure next Monday. The bill would cost almost $100 billion annually and would set policy for farm subsidies, food stamps and other farm and food aid programs.

Republican House leaders have said their chamber will vote on the bill, possibly as soon as this month.

In Kentucky, the industrial hemp movement has firmly taken root as the plant’s advocates hope for a breakthrough at the federal level.

State Agriculture Commissioner James Comer says its reintroduction would give farmers a new crop and would create processing jobs to turn the fiber and seeds into products ranging from paper to biofuels. Dozens of countries already produce the crop.

Comer went to Washington to meet with federal officials to lobby for a change on hemp policy at the federal level.

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear let the state’s hemp bill become law without his signature. The Democratic governor said he wouldn’t sign the legislation out of concerns, shared by some in law enforcement, that marijuana growers could camouflage their illegal crops with hemp plants.

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Ky-s-senators-blocked-in-effort-to-legalize-hemp-4584896.php#ixzz2VUQvurVc

Ron Paul Campaign Aide Benton Goes to Work for Sen. McConnell

Written by  Thomas R. Eddlem

Ron Paul Campaign Aide Benton Goes to Work for Sen. McConnell

Longtime Ron Paul for President campaign aide Jesse Benton announced September 13 that he would take a job working on the reelection campaign of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Benton’s choice of McConnell drew criticism from many libertarian-leaning activists who had supported the Ron Paul campaign, as McConnell had been the major force behind trying (unsuccessfully) to stop Ron Paul’s son Rand from being elected to the U.S. Senate from Kentucky in 2010.

Just two days earlier, Benton had resigned from the staff of the Paul-aligned Campaign for Liberty, a grass-roots advocacy organization seeking smaller government with affiliates across the nation. “After much soul searching,” Benton wrote in a September 11 letter to Campaign for Liberty, “I have decided that my passion lies in direct electoral politics, and I plan to work on campaigns rather than resume my work in grassroots advocacy.”

The McConnell campaign released a statement expressing happiness that it had Benton on board. “Jesse is literally the best in the business at building and organizing conservative grassroots movements, and I’m thrilled he’s chosen to return to Kentucky to lead my campaign.” Benton returned the compliments to the establishment Republican. “It is a real honor to join Senator McConnell’s team. I look forward to playing my part in re-electing a great leader who can truly unite a broad coalition of Americans and get our country back on track,” Benton said in a press release.

Benton had long been a controversial figure in the Ron Paul campaign, with some activists complaining that he wasn’t a true believer in the Ron Paul cause of libertarian-leaning smaller government and was an “establishment sell-out” months before he took the job with McConnell. Among those who complained about Benton after his departure from the grassroots campaign was Dr. Thomas Woods, a scholar and activist associated with the Ludwig von Mises Institute. Woods said of Benton (who married one of Ron Paul’s granddaughters), that Benton had done his best to marginalize the libertarian supporters of Paul during the campaign. Woods also suggested:

Ask yourself this: how much money would you have to be paid to work for an enemy of the things you’re supposed to stand for? Maybe now people will understand why Jesse would fly into a tirade after some of Ron’s most heroic moments, when the rest of us were cheering.

The Washington Post portrayed the move in a different light, noting that the younger Dr. Paul (Rand) and McConnell had patched up many of their political differences: “But Paul and McConnell have developed a working relationship and the tea party-tied freshman is backing his older colleague in 2014.” Indeed, McConnell had participated in the RNC video complimenting Ron Paul at the Tampa national convention several weeks ago.

CONTINUE READING…

Friend of Ky. senator calls marijuana bill ‘self-serving’

by Chelsea Rabideau

WHAS11.com

Posted on July 5, 2012 at 11:50 PM

Updated Friday, Jul 6 at 10:52 AM

 

perry clark

 

Related:

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) – A Kentucky state senator from Louisville is pitching a bill in Frankfort that would legalize medical marijuana. It’s named in honor of one of medical marijuana’s long-standing supporters, Gatewood Galbraith, who died in January. But, one of the senator’s long-time friends says the bill is self-serving.

David Toborowsky says he’s been friends with democratic senator Perry Clark for 15 years. He’s also a supporter of Clark’s opponent Chris Thieneman. When Clark introduced the Gatewood Galbraith Memorial Medical Marijuana Act of 2013 Thursday, Toborowsky says he was bothered.

“You know, being an elected official is leadership and as a constituent, I would hope for a little more from that. Like I said, there’s more important issues out there,” Toborowsky said.
But, there’s a little more to it.

Toborowsky said he faced an uncomfortable situation during the last legislative session. He claimed he went to Clark’s house to talk politics and the senator was smoking pot.

“They handed it to me, I’m not a pot smoker, it’s not my thing,” Toborowsky said. “I don’t judge anybody, what people do in their personal lives is their business. I didn’t think anything of it and it didn’t bother me until the bill was filed…and I thought, you know, that’s kind of self-serving.”
Senator Clark freely admitted to using the drug.

“I have chronic back pain. I’ve been known to smoke weed. People know that about me somewhat. I’m not a chronic smoker. I’m a 70’s child, child of the 70’s, I’m a veteran,” Clark said. “They put me in not the greatest places in the Orient. We were sailors so, you know what we were doing and we weren’t behaving totally. But, I have been recommended marijuana for my back.”

Again, Toborowsky said he’s been friends with Clark for 15 years. But, he’s also contributed money to republican Chris Thieneman’s campaign in the past. He also caused his own stir when he listed the same address as Thieneman when he filed to run for the Jefferson County School Board in 2010.

CONTINUE READING AND VIEW VIDEO HERE…

Friend of Ky. senator calls marijuana bill ‘self-serving’

by Chelsea Rabideau

WHAS11.com

Posted on July 5, 2012 at 11:50 PM

Updated Friday, Jul 6 at 10:52 AM

 

perry clark

 

Related:

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) – A Kentucky state senator from Louisville is pitching a bill in Frankfort that would legalize medical marijuana. It’s named in honor of one of medical marijuana’s long-standing supporters, Gatewood Galbraith, who died in January. But, one of the senator’s long-time friends says the bill is self-serving.

David Toborowsky says he’s been friends with democratic senator Perry Clark for 15 years. He’s also a supporter of Clark’s opponent Chris Thieneman. When Clark introduced the Gatewood Galbraith Memorial Medical Marijuana Act of 2013 Thursday, Toborowsky says he was bothered.

“You know, being an elected official is leadership and as a constituent, I would hope for a little more from that. Like I said, there’s more important issues out there,” Toborowsky said.
But, there’s a little more to it.

Toborowsky said he faced an uncomfortable situation during the last legislative session. He claimed he went to Clark’s house to talk politics and the senator was smoking pot.

“They handed it to me, I’m not a pot smoker, it’s not my thing,” Toborowsky said. “I don’t judge anybody, what people do in their personal lives is their business. I didn’t think anything of it and it didn’t bother me until the bill was filed…and I thought, you know, that’s kind of self-serving.”
Senator Clark freely admitted to using the drug.

“I have chronic back pain. I’ve been known to smoke weed. People know that about me somewhat. I’m not a chronic smoker. I’m a 70’s child, child of the 70’s, I’m a veteran,” Clark said. “They put me in not the greatest places in the Orient. We were sailors so, you know what we were doing and we weren’t behaving totally. But, I have been recommended marijuana for my back.”

Again, Toborowsky said he’s been friends with Clark for 15 years. But, he’s also contributed money to republican Chris Thieneman’s campaign in the past. He also caused his own stir when he listed the same address as Thieneman when he filed to run for the Jefferson County School Board in 2010.

CONTINUE READING AND VIEW VIDEO HERE…

The RP: It’s high time we legalize hemp,

The RP: It’s high time we legalize hemp,
discussion, rally tonight with Ag. Com. Comer

thumb_http://kyfbackupdata.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/jonathanmiller_mug1.jpg

By Jonathan Miller
KyForward contributor

Last week, I received a very warm reception from my hometown’s Tea Party organization.

Yes, you read that correctly…

My regular readers know that I am an unabashed, gay-marriage-embracing, pro-choice-supporting, clean-energy-promoting, immigration-reforming, economic-inequality-battling, church-and-state-separating LIBERAL.

And yet, I repeat (for my friends that may have fainted upon reading the first sentence of this essay), I was warmly welcomed and even embraced by our local lovers of liberty.

I wish I could credit my soaring oratory or my youthful charisma, but I simply can’t deny that I’m a better recovering politician than an active one.

The truth is that I spoke on a topic that knows no ideology, an issue that has broad bi-partisan support, and yet one that has met stiff political resistence from the powers that be:

The legalization of industrial hemp

The subject of hemp, while discussed and debated for decades, unfortunately has been mostly seen as a cause célèbre of the political margins, either the “hippie” Far Left or the libertarian Far Right. But my recent experience with the issue reveals that public support for industrial hemp legalization — particularly within the agricultural community — is reaching a tipping point.

And it’s time for the business community to shoulder-pad-up and push legalized industrial hemp across the goal line.

A few months ago, I caused a bit of a stir in my Bible Belt home state of Kentucky when I published an essay here that argued it was high time to legalize marijuana.

When I served as Kentucky’s state treasurer, it was easy for me to represent my conservative constituents and oppose legalizing cannabis.

But leaving the arena last year freed me of my electoral blinders and allowed me to take a more critical look at the underlying issues. And I concluded that legalizing cannabis would enable our government, as well as our society, to better reflect universally shared moral values, such as compassion toward the sick, justice in our legal system and economic opportunity for all.

But while a recent Gallup poll revealed that a majority of Americans support legalizing marijuana, and our junior U.S. senator’s father, Ron Paul — a legal pot proponent — has run well in the GOP presidential primaries, I concede that legalizing marijuana is still a few political cycles away.

But hemp is not pot.

The two plants are quite distinct in the way that they appear physically and are cultivated agriculturally. As outlined in Business Lexington:

Industrial hemp is grown in tight rows to maximize stalk yield, the part of the plant that is rich in the long bast fibers that line the outside of the stalk and is rich in cellulose in the stalk’s inner hurd. Marijuana or seed crops are grown with more space between them to favor the flourishing of leaves and flowers. Different strains of the same plant, cannabis sativa l., have varying amounts of THC, the psychoactive component. Industrial hemp, whether grown for industry or seed stock, has less than one percent THC, making it a non-drug crop. Marijuana strains of the plant can range from 5 percent to 20 percent THC content.

Smoking hemp can’t get you high; it just might make you feel a little foolish that you tried.

More significantly, legalized industrial hemp production could emerge as a prolific cash crop that could bring hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue to Kentucky, and many billions of dollars to the United States.

There are more than 25,000 uses for the crop, including rope, clothing, automotive paneling and door installation — even makeup.

Most exciting to me — as a clean energy advocate — is hemp’s application as a clean-burning alternative fuel.

Hemp burns with no carbon emissions and produces twice as much ethanol per acre as corn. While bio-fuels critics have raised alarms at the diversion of food products into fuel production — causing a recent spike in food prices — hemp has no such negative economic side effects. Moreover, hemp crops need no pesticides to flourish, and their cultivation leaves the soil more enriched.

As the United States struggles with the dual enormous challenges of climate change and dependence on foreign oil, industrial hemp could become a powerful weapon in America’s energy independence arsenal.

Legalizing hemp would provide a no-risk, no-victim economic jackpot for the United States. And it hasn’t gone unnoticed: A recent poll in my very “red” state revealed that already 70 percent of Kentuckians support the legal use of industrial hemp.

So why haven’t we seen action?

The legislative stasis should come as no surprise: Our political system’s deep dysfunction and hyper-partisanship too often prevent even the most obviously beneficial public policies from becoming law. And too many politicians are paralyzed by the fear that they would be tagged as “soft on crime,” or teased for supporting one of marijuana’s distant cousins.

That’s why it is critical for the business community to become engaged. Particularly here in Kentucky, when business leaders have joined in concerted statewide reform efforts, the community has provided the critical, non-partisan leadership needed to overcome political stasis. And on this manifestly economic issue, no group has more credibility than the men and women who create the jobs and make the products that keep our economy humming.

Further, the sober credibility of the button-down Main Street crowd will help extinguish the fears of politicians who worry about being associated with a “radical” product. The business community’s blessing will provide sufficient political cover for those afraid of being demagogued or misunderstood.

Should the business community take a strong stance on behalf of legalizing hemp, it would provide the final push necessary to solidify support for its legalization. When small-town and large-city business people join forces with rural farmers to advocate for hemp legalization, our political leaders cannot ignore them.

If you agree, encourage your community’s business leaders to become involved as advocates for the issue. Equally as important, contact your Congressmen and state legislators immediately to insist that hemp legalization is not a radical, fringe issue, but rather a moral and economic imperative for our country.

And maybe once liberals and Tea Partiers develop a successful bi-partisan coalition for legalizing hemp, the potential is endless for further joint, uh, concerted action. We certainly won’t agree on everything, but there are too many common sense, non-ideological solutions to our country’s most intractable problems that never are addressed by our broken political system.

I invite you to join us in Lexington this evening from (Wednesday) from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at the Red Mile racetrack in Lexington. I will be on hand with Agriculture Commissioner Jamie Comer and State Sen. Joey Pendleton for a seminar, discussion, press conference, and rally on the hemp issue.

This column first appeared at TheRecoveringPolitician.com. It is used by permission of the author and the publisher.

CONTINUE READING…

Pending industrial hemp legislation could go to pot

By Brad Bowman

Thursday, March 1, 2012 at 6:19 pm

Two bills in state legislation for the legalization of industrial hemp could offer a transition crop for farmers in Nelson County.  Central Kentucky was the largest producer of hemp during World War II for rope production, but state officials say it isn’t legislation but law enforcement that will decide hemp’s future in the state or Nelson County.

Hemp has been looked at as alternative energy source in the past, according to Nelson County Extension Agent, Ron Bowman.

“If it was feasible at all, we would have to be closer to the actual power plants,” Bowman said. “It all depends on the price of the product, what would it cost to ship it and whether our farmers can actually make money from it.”

Industrial hemp is a non-psychoactive variety of the Cannabis sativa plant. Given its low THC content, it would not be attractive as a recreational drug like marijuana, but the stigma has helped stop its legalization.

Hemp studies have been initiated in the past, but the Federal Drug Enforcement Administration denied permits to the Dean of University of Kentucky’s College of Agriculture Scott Smith.

“There are advocates on both sides of the issue,” Smith said. “The ultimate question is whether hemp is an economic solution for farmers.”

There isn’t sufficient research on industrial hemp to discern whether it is economically viable for farmers, according to Smith. Research exists in Canada and Europe for production, but not the market research needed in the U.S., according to Smith. When the University of Kentucky and Kentucky State University were encouraged to research hemp production, Smith was denied by the DEA.

“We have studies on switch back grass and miscanthus grass which could be just as productive as hemp for an energy source, but we just don’t know enough about it,” Smith said.

Hemp could be the transition crop for local Nelson County tobacco farmers if research could support the crop as an economical and marketable product.

“There are a lot of unanswered questions out there about whether it is right for our farmers. If it can be used in all the different ways people claim that it can, farmers are interested,” State Sen. Jimmy Higdon said. “We need the universities to research it and show that it can work, but we need law enforcement on board to make this happen.”

The bills would require farmers to be licensed by the Department of Agriculture and pass a criminal history check by local sheriffs. Sheriffs would do random test inspections of hemp fields at a fee of $5 per acre with a minimum $150 fee. The money would be divided between the sheriff and agriculture departments.

The transition crop couldn’t come soon enough for farming families looking for an alternative to tobacco, according to State Rep., David Floyd.

“It’s a fact that we need to move tobacco farmers toward another crop,” Floyd said. “A lot has been taken away from tobacco farmers. Years ago, tobacco fields put their children through school. “

Industrial hemp is considered a controlled substance by the DEA. Bound by international treaty laws, the DEA can only legally grant one entity the permit to research cannabis in any form, according to DEA Public Relations Officer Barbara Carreno in Washington D.C. The University of Mississippi currently possesses the permit.

“Our main concern is security. We have security requirements that must be met in regards to researching controlled substances,” Carreno said. “The university is required by law to regularly publish reports for compliance with security and research.”

The permit is just one part of the process for legal research by any entity. The National Institute on Drug Abuse oversees the approval process, which requires the reports from an approved research group. The DEA doesn’t approve or disapprove research, Carreno said.

States that have legalized medicinal marijuana are operating in violation of federal law. North Dakota has sued the DEA for the right to grow industrial hemp, Carreno said. The lack of legal research confuses the issue of industrial hemp and street marijuana sought after by drug users.

“Hemp is long and spindle-like,” Smith said. “There is an argument that cross pollination would render an illegal plant grown in the same field with less than desirable levels of THC, but we don’t have the research to support that.”

The profitability of industrial hemp and the legal hurdles to produce the crop isn’t lost on Kentucky Agricultural Commissioner James Comer.

“The U.S. is the only country that doesn’t grow industrial hemp. North Dakota is suing the DEA because they can see the money being made in Canada,” Comer said. “We will continue to educate people statewide to address the misinformation and the potential it has for our agricultural economy.”

It is a cheaper crop for farmers to put out than crops such as corn grown for ethanol and it is greener. Industrial hemp doesn’t require fertilizer, Comer said.

The crop could produce a significant contribution to the agriculture economy. It wouldn’t be just an opportunity for farmers but the state, according to Comer.

“This could create manufacturing jobs. We have companies that would come here for manufacturing greener products to replace plastic for the automotive industry such as car dashes,” Comer said.

The commissioner maintains an optimistic stance on the legality issues surrounding industrial hemp and its classification. U.S. Representative for Texas’s 14th congressional district, Ron Paul’s introduction of H.R. 1831 would take industrial hemp out of the jurisdiction of the DEA by declassifying it as a controlled substance, according to Comer.

“This is truly a bipartisan issue,” Comer said. “Everyone from the far right to the far left is on board to make this happen. We have to look ahead and we have everything we need without asking for money or raising taxes.”

BRAD BOWMAN can be reached at bbowman@lcni.com