April has been a busy month when it comes to high-profile current and former American politicians speaking out in favor of cannabis.
Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky announced a proposal to remove hemp from the Controlled Substances list, likely due in no small part to his state’s longtime acceptance of the plant. Regardless of his regressive views on other social issues, McConnell sounds downright Willie Nelsonesque in his touting of hemp’s uses: “Hemp could end up in your car’s dashboard. It could end up in your food. It could end up in your medicine. It has many diverse potential uses, and we’re optimistic it could be very significant for Kentucky agriculture,” he said in an interview with a Kentucky radio station. McConnell hopes to attach legalization to this year’s version of the Farm Bill.
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announced on 4/20 (natch) that he would introduce a bill to decriminalize marijuana in the United States. Schumer had previously opposed its legalization but appears to be bending in the direction of public opinion. In a Vice News segment, he even reluctantly signed a bong to illustrate his support.
McConnell wasn’t the only Republican jumping in on the positive side of the cannabis debate with both feet. Former House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) announced earlier this month that he’s joining the advisory board of Acreage Holdings, a company that cultivates and sells marijuana in several U.S. states. A man who once was staunchly opposed to legalization of marijuana (yet remained an avid fan of scotch) could now conceivably be caught in a Jeff Sessions RICO prosecution over his involvement with the plant.
It’s tempting to deplore the cowardice and hypocrisy of people who, while in office, vilified cannabis, yet now support legalization as private citizens poised to turn a profit on cannabis. The fact is, however, that the industry and its consumers may need to accept a lot of awkward bedfellows in the long march to end prohibition.