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.