The Richmond Register

Viewpoints

February 2, 2013

Mystifying smoke and mirrors

FRANKFORT — FRANKFORT – Frankfort seems suddenly enveloped in a haze. It’s not a purple haze, but it’s close.

Hemp is all the rage and those for it and those against it are raging.

For a person of my age and generation there’s something funny here, but I haven’t quite cut through all the smoke to figure out exactly what it is. But the folks once known as the law-and-order bunch are fighting the Kentucky State Police and others over whether to legalize industrial hemp.

On Monday, Republican Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, who rails against environmental regulations, was trying to sell a reporter on the advisability of legalizing hemp “because it’s so green.” The same fella who ran for office a couple of years ago traveling Kentucky on a “coal-and-corn tour,” raging against President Barack Obama for declaring a “war on coal,” now says hemp is “sustainable” and a valuable bio-fuel.

It’s enough to make one’s head spin, even one who came of age during the flower child era.

Take a deep breath. Mitch McConnell now favors legalizing hemp. But perhaps we shouldn’t be all that surprised.

McConnell’s hero is Henry Clay, the Great Compromiser and the man who made the job of Speaker of the House a powerful and important position. Clay grew a whole lot of hemp in his day. He was also father of the American System which proposed federal subsidies for roads, canals and other “internal improvements” to develop agricultural markets. It sounds now sort of like a stimulus plan, but McConnell would rather you didn’t notice.

(The current Republican Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives is a notorious smoker but not hemp or marijuana. Ask Michelle Obama.)

The tea party in Kentucky favors legalization of hemp, another reason we shouldn’t be surprised McConnell suddenly sees the light.

Tea, not hemp or marijuana, is now McConnell’s favorite herbal leaf. Those who long saw McConnell as an establishment Republican appropriator have of late been wondering what he’s been smoking.

McConnell probably hopes we’re all suffering short-term memory loss.

Kentucky is a red state, but maybe it’s becoming a purple state. Given our apparent collective distaste for Obama it’s clearly not because of our political sentiments. But proponents of an even more liberal approach to cannabis have long claimed Kentucky’s real leading cash crop is marijuana.

Why couldn’t Gatewood Galbraith have taken better care of himself and managed to live to see all of this and regale us with his wit and commentary? Galbraith said he smoked marijuana to treat his asthma, and he was an early supporter of legalizing hemp.

(It reminds me of one of the impish Galbraith’s best campaign lines: “Thirty years ago, they said: ‘Gatewood, you’re 30 years ahead of your time.’ Well . . . here we are.”)

Bill Clinton is the most popular national Democrat in Kentucky, but he insists he never inhaled, which doesn’t sound like it was really worth the trouble or risk or all that much fun either. Clinton reportedly favors cigars.

Maybe state Sen. Perry Clark, D-Louisville, who won re-election despite publicly admitting to “smoking a little weed” and is sponsoring a bill to legalize marijuana for medical uses, can join forces with Comer.

Then hemp or marijuana might take their places alongside of Kentucky’s other “signature” industries like coal, Bourbon, horse racing, basketball and tobacco.

That would further prove just how wrong Obama is about us. You see, we cling to a lot more than our guns and religion. We really love quick fixes – and our vices, too.

Ronnie Ellis writes for CNHI News Service and is based in Frankfort. Reach him at rellis@cnhi.com. Follow CNHI News Service stories on Twitter at www.twitter.com/cnhifrankfort.

1
Text Only
Viewpoints
  • 06.29 CrystalFarewell.jpg Starting over at Head Start

    All I ever wanted to be was a journalist. Having worked on my high school and college newspapers, I knew it was the career for me.
    I love talking to people, listening to their stories, being creative every day and experiencing new things. But as you know, news happens outside the hours of 9 to 5, and my job here at the Register rarely stayed within that time frame.

    June 29, 2014 2 Photos

  • Ike Adams They don’t make strawberries as they did back in the old days

    I’m not inclined to go through my archives at the moment, but it almost feels like the column I’m about to write has almost become an annual thing over the years.
    At least I know for sure that that this is not the first time that memories of picking strawberries there on Blair Branch on hot days in June has triggered this keyboard about this time of year.
    I grew up on a little subsistence, hillside farm deep in the mountains of eastern Kentucky, among the coalfields near the Virginia line.

    June 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ike Adams Baby boomers have let technology rob their grandchildren of the joys of youth

    When I was growing up, it was not uncommon to see fathers and sons along creek banks fishing together or in the woods hunting squirrels or pitching horse shoes or even shooting marbles late in the afternoon in the cool hours before dark.
    Dads were teaching kids to play the games they grew up with. Little girls, learned from mothers,how to skip rope, play with jacks or play hopscotch.

    June 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ronnie-Ellis.jpg No Lincoln or Douglas in this debate

    Remember the famous slap-down in the 1988 vice presidential debate when Republican Dan Quayle compared his youth and limited government experience to those of John Kennedy’s when Kennedy ran for president?
    His Democratic opponent, Texas Sen. Lloyd Bentsen, acidly replied: “I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy.”

    June 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ronnie-Ellis.jpg Senate campaign already in full bloom

    Any hope for a respite in the U.S. Senate campaign following Tuesday’s primary disappeared immediately.
    Mitch McConnell and Alison Lundergan Grimes came out swinging in victory speeches which sounded like campaign kickoffs.
    McConnell commended Matt Bevin on “a tough (primary) race” and appealed to Bevin supporters to unite behind his re-election bid. That will be hard for Bevin and those who backed him.

    May 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jim Waters.JPG ‘Taxpayer-eaters’ meet ‘self-serving politician-eaters’

    What some candidates could gain in this year’s election – beyond just winning office – is a stark reminder of how wrong political leaders were when declaring last year they had adequately addressed Kentucky’s public-pension crisis.
    Instead, legislators with serious courage deficiencies failed to agree on reforms beyond what they believe are “politically feasible.”

    May 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ike Adams Step Out, Step up for Diabetes Association

    Six weeks ago when I wrote here announcing the 2014 Edition of Team TKO’s American Diabetes Association, Step Out Walk Team, several dozen of you readers sent generous donations to sponsor grandson Tyler Kane Ochs (TKO) and me in the walk that takes place, rain or shine, in the mud or not, at Keeneland on the morning of May 31.
    Another several dozen of you either called, emailed or dropped a card in regular mail and asked that I remind you again “after the holidays” (Easter and Mother’s Day).

    May 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ronnie-Ellis.jpg Hitting the campaign trail

    The most watched race in the country ? the battle for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Republican Mitch McConnell ? has so far produced a bevy of charges and not much substance.
    We haven’t seen that much of McConnell or his likely Democratic opponent Alison Lundergan Grimes out on the campaign trail.
    McConnell’s primary opponent Matt Bevin has been much more active and visible, but his performance hasn’t enhanced his chances.

    May 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • The case of the scary black cat

    If Margie didn’t believe that black cats were the harbinger of bad luck, she certainly believed it when a black cat brushed against her leg while she was leaning over a large trash can burning garbage one late afternoon.
    Startled by the sudden appearance of the feline, Margie opened her mouth wide and let out a blood-curdling scream that could have awakened Count Dracula himself.

    May 10, 2014

  • Ike Adams Basking in the spring sunshine

    If you had asked me, as recently as two weeks ago, to make a list of things I expected to see on the first Monday in May of 2014, two of the things that I actually did see would not have been on the list, even if you’d required that it contain at least 500 items.
    I’d have been a bit skeptical about Ralph’s purple asparagus and his gorgeous snowball bush, both of which came through most admirably. And I would have had my doubts about the poppies that have been in our back yard for several generations and the bearded German Iris that Jeanette Todd gave us more than two decades ago. It faithfully stuns us there at the corner of the front porch every spring, but there they were, basking in absolute glory as the sun set Monday afternoon.

    May 8, 2014 1 Photo

AP Video
Crashed Air Algerie Plane Found in Mali Israel Mulls Ceasefire Amid Gaza Offensive In Case of Fire, Oxygen Masks for Pets Mobile App Gives Tour of Battle of Atlanta Sites Anti-violence Advocate Killed, but Not Silenced. Dempsey: Putin May Light Fire and Lose Control Arizona Prison Chief: Execution Wasn't Botched Calif. Police Investigate Peacock Shooting Death Raw: Protesters, Soldiers Clash in West Bank Police: Doctor Who Shot Gunman 'Saved Lives' 'Modern Family' Star on Gay Athletes Coming Out MN Twins Debut Beer Vending Machine DA: Pa. Doctor Fired Back at Hospital Gunman Raw: Iowa Police Dash Cam Shows Wild Chase Obama Seeks Limits on US Company Mergers Abroad Large Family to Share NJ Lottery Winnings U.S. Flights to Israel Resume After Ban Lifted Official: Air Algerie Flight 'probably Crashed' TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans Raw: National Guard Helps Battle WA Wildfires
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Poll

What county fair attraction do you like most?

Amusement rides
Beauty pageants
Flora Hall craft exhibits
Horse shows
Livestock, poultry shows
Truck, tractor pulls
Mud, dirt races
Gospel sing
I like them all
     View Results