Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul has announced his candidacy for president, giving hemp growers an ally in the fight for the White House.
Paul has voiced his opinion that hemp growth should be legalized in Kentucky because it’s a state’s-rights issue and a matter of economic development. He was a co-sponsor of a January bill called the Industrial Hemp Farming Act, along with 49 other members of the U.S. Senate.
Hemp has become a bipartisan issue because of its high value as an agricultural product. It’s used to make everything from fiber to car parts, and the 2014 market for products made from the plant in the U.S. had a total retail value of $620 million, according to the Hemp Industries Association.
Hemp was first grown in Kentucky in 1775, and the state was the largest producer of the crop, according to the state’s agriculture department.
Kentucky growers are already planting hemp as part of an experimental program extends into its second year. Producers are expected to plant “several hundred” acres this year, television station WKYT reported.