Mitch McConnell, Rand Paul Push For Hemp Legalization In Senate FightSubmitted by Jefferson on Mon, 05/20/2013 - 17:56
WASHINGTON -- Kentucky's two senators, Republicans Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell, have been working to include a provision that would legalize industrial hemp into the farm bill, according to Senate and Kentucky sources, an effort that is likely to result in a floor vote on the issue this week.
Paul and McConnell had hoped to insert the measure into the farm bill as it was being considered by the Agriculture Committee, but a jurisdictional spat broke out, as often does in the Senate. McConnell, a member of the committee, approached Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) last Monday night about inserting the provision, according to Senate aides, and was told that the Judiciary Committee had jurisdiction and he would need a waiver from its chairman, Sen. Pat Leahy (D-Vt.). Hemp laws are the purview of the Drug Enforcement Administration, even though hemp is not a drug and has no psychoactive potential, no matter how much a person smokes.
McConnell faces reelection in 2014, and has been working so closely with Paul that some aides have begun to refer to the libertarian newcomer and tea party favorite as the "shadow minority leader" -- a term that presumably expires if McConnell wins his race. McConnell brought Jesse Benton, a longtime aide of Rand Paul and Ron Paul, onto his campaign. With Rand Paul in his corner, there is little chance for a tea party candidate to successfully challenge McConnell, and Paul's energized base may boost turnout in the general election. If McConnell's effort on hemp is any guide, he's taking nothing for granted.