Kentucky Republican gubernatorial candidate Phil Moffett has come out in support of legalizing industrial hemp production. That makes him the second gubernatorial candidate in the state to embrace the idea. Perennial independent candidate Gatewood Galbraith has called for its legalization for years.
Moffett, who along with US Senate candidate Rand Paul is part of the tea party insurgency within the Bluegrass State's Republican Party, came out on the issue in response to a question during a meeting with libertarian voters last Thursday and reaffirmed his support in an interview with the Associated Press last Friday.
He is ready to "go to the carpet" to legalize hemp production, he told the AP. "We're going to have to challenge the federal authority to keep us from growing a legitimate crop," he said. "Industrial hemp is not a drug, so it shouldn't be regulated by the DEA or any other federal authority."
Moffett said he supported hemp production both for economic reasons and as a means of reducing the power of the federal government. "It's a farm product that can be used in a number of different ways to create jobs, but it's also a way to get the federal government farther off our back," Moffett said Friday. "Right now, the Drug Enforcement Agency does not allow hemp to be grown, and it would be a great test case for us to fight against the federal government to be able grow a completely legitimate crop that the federal government has decided they don't believe is worthy of planting."
Moffett doesn't favor marijuana legalization and he opposes medical marijuana "on an official level," he said. "But on a personal level, if someone were dying of cancer and marijuana was the only way they could find comfort, I'm not going to get in the way," he said. "There's a humanitarian aspect to this."
While industrial hemp may be imported for use in this country, American farmers are barred from growing it by the federal government. Nine states -- Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, Vermont, and West Virginia -- have passed legislation removing barriers to its production or research, according to the industry group Vote Hemp.
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