U.S. House of Representatives Votes to Legalize Industrial Hemp

 

 

WhiteHouse

The U.S. House of Representatives voted 225-200 on June 20 to legalize the industrial farming of hemp fiber. Hemp is the same species as the marijuana plant, and its fiber has been used to create clothing, paper, and other industrial products for thousands of years; however, it has been listed as a “controlled substance” since the beginning of the drug war in the United States. Unlike marijuana varieties of the plant, hemp is not bred to create high quantities of the drug THC.

The amendment’s sponsor, Jared Polis (D-Colo.), noted in congressional debate that “George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew hemp. The first American flag was made of hemp. And today, U.S. retailers sell over $300 million worth of goods containing hemp — but all of that hemp is imported, since farmers can’t grow it here. The federal government should clarify that states should have the ability to regulate academic and agriculture research of industrial hemp without fear of federal interference. Hemp is not marijuana, and at the very least, we should allow our universities — the greatest in the world — to research the potential benefits and downsides of this important agricultural commodity.”

The 225-200 vote included 62 Republican votes for the Polis amendment, many of whom were members of Justin Amash’s Republican Liberty Caucus or representatives from farm states. But most Republicans opposed the amendment, claiming it would make the drug war more difficult. “When you plant hemp alongside marijuana, you can’t tell the difference,” Representative Steve King (R-Iowa) said in congressional debate on the amendment to the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013.

“This is not about a drugs bill. This is about jobs,” Representative Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) countered King in House floor debate June 20. Massie, a key House Republican ally of Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky and a member of the Republican Liberty Caucus, opposes marijuana legalization but had signed on as a cosponsor of the Polis amendment.

The amendment would take industrial hemp off the controlled substances list if it meets the following classification: “The term ‘industrial hemp’ means the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of such plant, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.” The amendment would allow industrial farming of hemp “if a person grows or processes Cannabis sativa L. for purposes of making industrial hemp in accordance with State law.” Most states have passed laws legalizing industrial hemp, in whole or in part, but federal prohibitions have kept the plant from legal cultivation.

However, the annual agricultural authorization bill subsequently went down to defeat in the House by a vote of 195 to 234. Sponsors of the amendment hope that it will be revised in conference committee, where it has strong support from both Kentucky senators, Rand Paul and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

The legislation, originally offered as the bill H.R. 525, was sponsored by Jared Polis (D-Colo.) and Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), who represent states where voters recently considered ballot measures that legalized marijuana within their states, a fact King pointed out in House floor debate. Voters in Colorado and Washington approved the ballot measures in 2012, but voters in Oregon rejected a ballot measure that would have legalized cultivation of marijuana.

Recent polls have indicated that most Americans want legalization of marijuana, as well as hemp. Though support for marijuana legalization is by only a slim majority of the public, there’s a larger divide among age groups, with younger voters more heavily favoring legalization.

None of the debate on the amendment related to the constitutional authority of Congress to ban substances. Nor did any congressman reference the first time Congress banned a drug — alcohol. At that time, Congress followed proper constitutional protocol to amend the U.S. Constitution first, giving it the legitimate power to ban alcohol (i.e., the 18th Amendment). No comparable constitutional amendment has been passed for hemp, marijuana, raw milk, or any other substance prohibited by the federal government.

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

This was a working “HEMP” Farm that was a mile away from my home in Louisville KY

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AGRICULTURE AT FARMINGTON IN THE 1810-1840 PERIOD

The Farmington Hemp Farm in Louisville, Kentucky

  • Farmington was a 550-acre hemp plantation. Hemp was the principal cash crop, but not the only one. No Kentucky plantations were single crop operations. Diversified farming was the norm. One reason for this was the drastically fluctuating price for hemp sales.
  • Tobacco was grown at Farmington in some years. By 1840, vinegar, and possibly cider, produced from what must have been a fairly large orchard, were also sold.
  • Butter was produced in large enough quantities for it to be sold at the downtown Louisville market. Butter making was Lucy Speed’s responsibility. In 1840 Farmington had a herd of 17 ‘milch cows.’
  • Other seed crops at Farmington in 1840 included corn and timothy and clover hay. Wheat had also been grown at one point.
  • Crops grown for consumption at Farmington in 1840 included corn, Irish potatoes, apples, cabbages, peas and beans, and sugar beets. Raspberries and peaches were also mentioned in letters. Probably a wide variety of fruits and vegetables were grown in smaller quantities for seasonal consumption by the Speed family.
  • Livestock and fowl for consumption included pigs, cattle, turkey, chickens, and ducks.
  • Large quantities of potatoes, cabbages, sugar beets, and salted pork listed in the inventory suggest that these constituted the main portion of the diet for enslaved African Americans at Farmington. (This correlates with T.W. Bullitt’s account of the slave diet at Oxmoor.)
  • Agricultural outbuildings thought to have existed at Farmington include a hemp house (no doubt a brick or stone building), corn cribs, and probably several barns.

HEMP FARMING IN KENTUCKY AND AT FARMINGTON

  • Hemp was introduced into Kentucky with the earliest settlers. By the early 19th century it had become a significant cash crop with production centered in the Bluegrass and with large amounts also grown in Shelby, Mason and Jefferson counties. These areas had the richest soil, which was needed for high yields.
  • Hemp farming was extremely labor intensive, requiring extensive amounts of backbreaking work. Hemp, as it was produced in Kentucky, was dependent on a slave economy.
  • Kentucky’s 19th-century hemp crop was used to produce cordage and rough bagging for the baling of the cotton crop in the deep south. Kentucky’s dew-rotted hemp was of inferior quality, could never compete with imported water-rotted hemp, and was unsuccessful for marine uses.
  • The price of hemp fluctuated wildly making it difficult to rely on. ($330/ton in 1810; $60/ton in 1822; $180/ton in 1936; $80/ton in 1837)
  • Hemp production in Kentucky began to decline dramatically during and after the Civil War. Union forces prevented its river transport and demand was reduced because of reduced cotton production. After the war, new methods of baling cotton using iron bands became prevalent. Also, the end of slavery made finding an adequate labor force difficult.
  • From the 1870s through World War II hemp was grown in small quantities in Kentucky with several surges in production prompted by various short-lived demands. During this time Kentucky production was overtaken by hemp grown in Wisconsin where mechanized harvesting had been introduced. In Kentucky, methods of growing and harvesting hemp never changed from those developed in the early 19th century when John Speed was growing hemp.
  • Increasing concerns over the use of hemp for marijuana production led to a government prohibition on its production.

GROWING AND HARVESTING HEMP 

  • Hemp was planted in mid-April through May in well prepared soil that had been plowed, harrowed and rolled. The growing season was 100 to 120 days.
  • Hemp grown for seed was treated differently from hemp grown for the fibers or "lint."
  • Seed hemp was planted first in the very richest soil. Seeds were planted in hills and seedlings were thinned as they grew to about 8"high. They were thinned again as the male plants were identified, with most male plants being removed, leaving only a few for pollination. Often the tops of the female plants were lopped off to create branching and the production of more seed.
  • Plants were usually ready for harvesting in early September when they were carefully cut down near the ground with hemp hooks and dried. The seed was collected by flailing the stalks on a clean sheet. The chaff was then either blown away or separated from the seed by sifting. The seed was stored for the next year’s plants.
  • Fiber hemp was planted later and seeded more thickly. Stalks grew very tall and close together, thereby preventing the growth of many weeds, causing lower leaves to die off, and creating longer lengths of the desirable fibers. These plants grew 6′ to 10′ high. These plants, also, were cut down with hemp hooks.
  • Fiber hemp was left lying in the fields for "dew rotting" so that the gums that caused the fibers in the stalks to adhere to the outer casing would dissolve. After enough rotting had occurred, the stalks were gathered into stacks to dry them out and to await the breaking process that usually began shortly after Christmas.
  • So-called "hemp breaks" were dragged out in the fields to the stacks, where handfuls of the stalks were repeatedly bashed between the two parts of the break to shatter the outer casing and reveal the desired fibers. Initial cleaning was accomplished by whipping the fibers against the break to knock out remaining bits of the stalk (herds). The fibers were bundled in the field and weighed back at the hemp house. Later they were run through a "hackle," similar to a large and rougher looking carder, to further clean and align the fibers.
  • The fibers or "lint" were spun into a rough yarn and then either twisted into rope or woven on a simple hand loom into very rough cloth referred to as "bagging."
  • All these tasks were performed by enslaved African Americans who worked on their owner’s plantation or were leased for hemp production. The work was grueling, back-breaking labor, made more unpleasant by the dust and pollen stirred up as the hemp was processed. Many of the hemp workers were reported to have developed awful coughs that took months to go away.
  • Traditionally in Kentucky, hemp harvesting was assigned as task work to the enslaved African Americans. There were daily quotas for the amount of harvesting to be done and the amount of lint to be processed at the break. These varied depending on the age of the workers. Above and beyond the required amount, slaves were paid a small amount for extra production.
  • The Hemp Crop at Farmington in 1840

The 1840 inventory provides a number of clues about hemp production at Farmington at the time John Speed died.

  • Approximately 90 acres were used for the hemp crop that year, 87 for producing the fiber hemp and about another 3 for growing seed hemp (calculated by Otteson based on the quantity of seed listed).
  • The two sheets for cleaning hemp seed document the use of the typical method of obtaining the seed.
  • The 20 hemp hooks and 21 hemp breaks suggest that about 20 hands were employed in the production of hemp at Farmington.
  • References in the settlement of John Speed’s estate document the presence of a rope walk and weaving house at Farmington where the hemp was processed for sale. The "jack screw" in the inventory is probably the piece of equipment used at the end of the rope walk to twist the strands of hemp into rope. Why no looms are listed in the inventory is somewhat confusing.
  • In 1840, $9,154 was made at Farmington from the sale of hemp products.

PLEASE CONTINUE TO THE “EDISON HOUSE” SITE THRU THIS LINK…

Dad raised hemp for rope production, not for smoking, after World War II 5:43 PM, Sep 8, 2012

John Newport,  Springfield

 

http://stevemarkwell.com/images/rescuetripmar2009/061.jpg

 

Festival-goers celebrate hemp’s diversity” (News-Leader, Sep. 3) brought back memories. In 1946, I was living on a farm in south central Kentucky, and one spring day a couple of “feds” came by and asked my dad and the farmer on an adjoining farm if they would raise a few acres of hemp and harvest the seed.

The seeds were being grown for export to the Phillipines, where hemp had been a main crop before the war, and was used to make rope. As a result of the war, hemp seeds in the Phillipines were either in short supply, or nonexistent. My dad and the other farmer agreed to raise some hemp, and were well paid to do so.

The feds specified how the seeds were to be planted — in crossed rows, which made it possible to cultivate for weed control by plowing from east to west and from north to south.

They also specified how the seeds were to be “thrashed” by hand, and said that all stalks and leaves were to be burned immediately after the seeds had been gathered — which we thought was somewhat unusual.

Gathering and piling up the stalks, which were about 8 feet high, and burning them turned out to be the hardest part of the job.

My dad smoked his home-grown tobacco, and the thought of smoking some hemp leaves probably never occurred to him. However, the farmer on the adjoining farm didn’t smoke tobacco, and he smoked some hemp leaves — one time, he said.

He said the strange feelings he had after smoking hemp were such that he was afraid of something different, and worse, happening if he smoked it again.

Each summer for the next three years, the feds came by and looked for any hemp plants that might have grown from seeds lost in the “thrashing” process, and from being carried by birds far from the areas where the hemp had been grown.

Today, when I hear about people growing marijuana, I think, “Been there, done that.”

CONTINUE READING…

What you need to know about hemp protien

What you need to know about hemp protien
Posted by ChelsieGrabert on September 1st, 2012

If you have not taken a look at hemp products before you are going to be quite surprised when you find the amazing variety of hemp products that are available on the market today and the absolutely incredible benefits that they offer.

Shelled hump seeds provide a complete source of omega fatty acids 3, 6, and 9 as well as all 21 of the amino acids. This is an amazing food source that contains no added sugar and few saturated fats.

Hemp protein powder is an incredible source of protein. Just 8 tablespoons daily will give you the recommended daily amount of protein for the average person. You can easily get 8 tablespoons in daily by using it in your smoothie, sprinkling it on your cereal or baking with it.

Hair products that contain hemp seed oil will help make your hair feel softer, shinier, and more manageable. Hemp shampoo and conditioner are free of chemicals such as Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Parabens and Sodium Lauryl Sulphates which are easily absorbed into your body and do have negative effects.

An all natural mosquito repellent is available that is made of pure hemp oil, citronella, witch hazel, cedarwood, and other natural ingredients. Not only will Hemp-AWAY keep bugs at bay it is perfectly safe and the essential oils penetrate your skin leaving it softer than it was before you applied it.

Hemp Oil is a natural anti-inflammatory and muscle soother that easily penetrates your skin and starts to provide relief for joint and muscle pain immediately. The relief will last for about two to four hours. While it is working to relieve your pain it is also nourishing, moisturizing, and lubricate your skin and muscles.

These are just a few of the amazing products available and you can order them securely from www.rainhemp.com.

Hemp advocates say support is growing for crop in Kentucky

Bruce Schreiner/The Associated Press Posted:   04/11/2012 01:59:34 AM PDT

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Hemp isn’t legal in Kentucky yet, but the eclectic mix of people at a recent seminar in Lexington was evidence that support for the versatile plant may be taking root.

One by one, elected officials stepped forward to promote the virtues of hemp production, staking out a position that once might have sown political trouble back home. They were cheered by liberals and libertarian-leaning conservatives alike.

”We’ve come a long way,” said state Sen. Joey Pendleton, who has sponsored a string of unsuccessful bills seeking to reintroduce hemp in the Bluegrass state. “The first year I had this, it was lonely.”

Kentucky once was a leading producer of industrial hemp, a tall, leafy plant with a multitude of uses that has been outlawed for decades because of its association with marijuana. Those seeking to legalize the plant argue that the change would create a new crop for farmers, replacing a hemp supply now imported from Canada and other countries.

The plant can be used to make paper, biofuels, clothing, lotions and other products.

Despite bipartisan support, the latest hemp measures failed again this year in the Kentucky General Assembly. But this time, hemp advocates think they have momentum on their side and vow to press on with their campaign to legalize the crop.

Pendleton, D-Hopkinsville, urged his fellow hemp supporters to lobby hard in preparation for another push in 2013.

”I think next


562243_396337110385658_100000281174677_1448968_1726194006_n


year is the year,” said Pendleton, whose grandfather raised hemp in western Kentucky.

Hemp bills have been introduced in 11 state legislatures this year, but so far none have passed, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The bills include allowing privately funded industrial hemp research, allowing hemp production under strict licensing programs and urging the federal government to allow hemp production for industrial uses.

Hemp’s reputation has undergone drastic pendulum swings in the U.S.

During World War II, the U.S. government encouraged farmers to grow hemp for the war effort because other industrial fibers, often imported from overseas, were in short supply. But the crop hasn’t been grown in the U.S. since the 1950s as the federal government moved to classify hemp as a controlled substance because it’s related to marijuana.

Hemp proponents argue the plant contains little of the mind-altering chemical THC.

Someone would have to “smoke a joint the size of a telephone pole,” to get high from hemp, Roger Johnson, a hemp supporter and president of the National Farmers Union, said in a telephone interview.

Johnson has seen strong support for hemp in North Dakota, where he formerly served as state agriculture commissioner.

Two North Dakota farmers received the state’s first licenses to grow industrial hemp in 2007, but they never received approval from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. The farmers sued, but a federal appeals court affirmed a lower court decision dismissing the suit.

”There’s no amount of talking, and believe me I’ve tried, that might convince them otherwise,” Johnson said of the DEA. “So short of the Congress passing a law defining industrial hemp differently from marijuana, I think it’s going to be a long, uphill battle to get anywhere.”

The federal Controlled Substances Act does not differentiate between marijuana and hemp, said Barbara Carreno, a DEA spokeswoman. As a result, “we would not approve applications to grow hemp because it is marijuana,” she said.

Because of that, Johnson called for a grassroots push for congressional action to legalize hemp production.

Imports include finished hemp products and hemp material turned into goods. U.S. retail sales of hemp products exceeded $400 million last year, according to industry estimates.

Pete Ashman, of Philadelphia, was among those at the Lexington hemp seminar, where he displayed a myriad of hemp products, from food, to toilet paper to shampoo. He claimed, “There’s nothing greener on God’s earth.”

Republican state Sen. Paul Hornback didn’t go that far, but the tobacco farmer from Shelbyville said in a phone interview that he sees industrial hemp as an alternative crop that could give Kentucky agriculture a boost if it ever gains a legal foothold.

Agriculture Commissioner James Comer also supports legalization, arguing that industrial hemp could yield more per acre than corn and soybeans. He sees hemp as a viable alternative to tobacco, a once-stalwart crop that has been on the decline in Kentucky.

Comer, among the speakers at the Lexington seminar, said most Kentucky farmers have the equipment needed to produce hemp. He added that the crop needs no herbicides or pesticides, a plus for the environment and a cost savings for producers.

Hemp production would spin off new manufacturing, Comer said, creating jobs in parts of rural Kentucky where a once-thriving garment sector disappeared after the North American Free Trade Agreement took effect in the 1990s.

Once factories started churning out hemp products, farmers would flock to the crop, Comer predicted.

Comer, a Republican, said he’s been contacted by three “very legitimate industrial prospects” that would consider opening hemp production plants in Kentucky if the crop becomes legal to grow. One company wants to use hemp to make vehicle dashes, he said. Another wants to make ethanol and cosmetics out of hemp, he said.

John Riley, a former magistrate in Spencer County, sees hemp as a potentially lucrative crop that could become a renewable fuel source. It would be a big transformation for a crop once known as a major source for rope.

”We’re not talking about rope, and we’re not talking about dope,” he said. “What we’re talking about is a serious agricultural product.”

Still, the crop needs to overcome what Riley refers to as the “snicker factor.”

Pendleton said he’ll keep pushing the economic benefits of hemp.

”I look forward to continuing to fight the fight,” Pendleton said. “We can make this happen in Kentucky.”

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.

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