Mitch McConnell: Drug Warrior, CBD Champion?
Yesterday, the Senate passed a version of the 2018 Farm Bill that would legalize so-called “industrial hemp” – legislation that has long been a pet project of one of the most powerful men in America, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). His office immediately issued a self-congratulatory press release about the sanctity of the American farmer and the enormous economic opportunity that will soon be available to former tobacco growers in his home state of Kentucky. These are the talking points McConnell has been pushing since the beginning of the year: that hemp is “a completely different plant than its illicit cousin,” marijuana, and that Americans are clamoring for more hemp products, spending $820 million last year on “everything from clothing to auto parts,” mostly made out of hemp grown overseas.
But hemp and marijuana are not actually different plants, and some experts say that McConnell’s desire to legalize hemp is not really about hippie rope necklaces and home insulation. It’s about a drug – a compound with such immense medical potential that the FDA just approved a pharmaceutical-grade version for children suffering from intractable seizures. We are talking, of course, about cannabidiol, or CBD.
“Almost all of the hemp growers in Kentucky are doing so for CBD production right now, and I know that because we either represent them, or we’ve been to the farms to see what they’re doing,” says Colorado-based cannabis attorney Bob Hoban, who recently argued in federal court on behalf of the Hemp Industries Association. “Cannabinoids are the cash product that comes out of hemp.”