Sen. Rand Paul and Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer took the lead last month in the movement to legalize hemp, and frankly, we should be listening to them on this particular issue.
Firstly, hemp is not marijuana. Though it resembles marijuana, hemp does not contain high levels of THC, the substance that provides the “high” when marijuana is smoked or ingested. In other words, hemp is not a drug.
Hemp does, however, present great promise in terms of agriculture here in Kentucky, and especially in Eastern Kentucky where thousands of acres of land have been flattened and could provide suitable farmland because of surface coal mining. In an economy where we desperately need jobs, hemp could provide jobs.
Hemp also provides several other benefits, as it can be made into paper, textiles and other commodities. Just think of the trees our nation could save with a healthy hemp crop raised each year. Hemp is also a drought-resistant plant, of which anyone living in western Kentucky or in the Midwest can see the benefits.
Hemp’s only drawback remains its resemblance to marijuana, and for that reason alone, many law enforcement agencies contend it should never be legalized as hemp farmers could easily hide patches of marijuana in their fields.
Frankly, that’s pretty sparse reasoning, especially considering that any hemp growing operations would most certainly be heavily regulated by state or federal agencies. Additionally, while our law enforcement operations find and destroy thousands of marijuana plants each year, pot remains the state’s biggest cash crop. Pot growers, it seems, aren’t having that much trouble finding places to grow it.
The fact is that Kentucky could use the jobs that growing hemp would create, and the benefits of decriminalizing it far outweigh the sole drawback.
— The Hazard Herald