WASHINGTON — Senators Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell of Kentucky are championing The Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2013, an initiative to remove federal restrictions on the domestic farming of industrial hemp, provided that the hemp is grown for medical purposes only. The passing of this bill would constitute a major victory for industrial hemp lobbies, and could be a major step towards total legalization.
“The passage of this bill will allow the United States, the world’s largest consumer of hemp, to create jobs by growing it ourselves,” said McConnell. “Farming hemp would alleviate the pain suffered every day by thousands of local economies.”
“It’s safe too, less than .03% THC,” Rand Paul chimed in. “Trust me, it’s almost impossible to get high on this shit. I’ve tried.”
Many lawmakers and voters vehemently oppose total legalization, arguing that local economies will develop a dependency on industrial hemp, and that it is a gateway crop to farming substances like poppy seeds or even coca plants. To ease the transition and protect impressionable agribusinesses, industrial hemp is to be allowed “for medical linens only,” assuming the legislation is passed.
The hemp could be grown for approved medicinal purposes including bed linens, hospital gowns, towels, scrubs, and other textile products needed by medical professionals. A special license would permit the growth of hemp to make paper for medical records and documents.
Some worry, however, that the term “medical linens” is too vague. Hemp, of course, can also be used to produce nutritious food and beverages, cosmetics and oils, versatile building supplies, a variety of plastics, and even viable biofuels. Proponents are already making the case that all these applications could be considered “medical” or even “beneficial” under most understandings, and others are stretching the term “linens” by arguing that you can sort of wear or sleep on anything.
Another concern is that the hemp plant, which is by all accounts excellent for soil as well as for industrial purposes, will make farmers lazy and non-motivated since they won’t be forced to work quite as hard to survive. Hemp proponents have offered no response to this objection.