This may sound like a joke, but top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell is pushing for the federal legalization of hemp. He was enlightened by his farmer constituents in Kentucky. Hurt by the downturn in the tobacco market, they see salvation in hemp, a crop already legalized in several states and Canada.
No wonder. Industrial hemp is the single most versatile plant on Earth, used for everything from clothing, paper, fiberboard, insulation, fuel and food to toxic cleanup. Hemp requires considerably less water than cotton and virtually no toxic herbicides and pesticides. And there’s not enough THC in it to get anyone high. How this most beneficial crop was outlawed in the 1930s—by collusion between Republican Secretary of the Treasury Andrew Mellon, Bureau of Narcotics chief Harry Anslinger and the petrochemical and timber interests who feared hemp as a competitive product—is an object lesson on government corruption by big business. Forget all the antigovernment rhetoric by corporate interests—they love Uncle Sam when he can be arm-twisted into stifling competition.