When you think of hemp, Mitch McConnell wants you to think of him. The notoriously hardline Republican Senate Majority Leader is pushing for re-election in November 2020, and he’s turning to marijuana’s non-intoxicating cousin to help him collect votes.
In a newly-released clip of campaign B-roll footage for use in Republican super PAC commercials, Senator McConnell can be seen standing in the middle of nondescript hemp farm, surrounded by small-scale farmers and big buds of CBD-rich hemp flower. The video was first spotted by the Washington Free Beacon and then highlighted by Tom Angell over at Forbes.
Over the past two years, McConnell has made it a point to pursue hemp legislation at the federal level, pushing the 2018 Farm Bill that legalized the plant, as well as advocating for legislation to firm up hemp financing and food regulations.
But while Mitch has expressed support for hemp farming and the CBD industry, both of which have been a financial boon for his home state of Kentucky, the Senator has remained a steadfast prohibitionist when it comes to full-strength marijuana. McConnell has repeatedly denied federal cannabis reform recommendations, and as recently as last year, he referred to marijuana as hemp’s “illicit cousin.”
In fact, just a few years ago, Senator McConnell was so confused about cannabis that it stood in the way of what has become his proudest campaign promise — hemp prosperity. According to Marijuana Moment, fellow Kentucky Senator Rand Paul joked on Twitter last month about teaching McConnell the difference between hemp and weed, and his colleague’s continued confusion.
He was very concerned that people could smoke hemp and get high (you can’t). I told him well maybe but it would have to be the size of a telephone pole. I think he’s still confused.
— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) December 23, 2019
“Congress does do some good things. For example, I partnered with Mitch McConnell over the last few years to legalize hemp, which has been a pretty big success. But you should have seen the first meeting we had where I explained what hemp was to Mitch,” Rand tweeted. “He was very concerned that people could smoke hemp and get high (you can’t). I told him well maybe but it would have to be the size of a telephone pole. I think he’s still confused.”
It is yet to be seen if the footage of McConnell frolicking in a hemp field will help his 2020 campaign, but considering the current national political climate, we’re guessing it’s going to take a little more than CBD to save Mitch’s seat.
Follow Zach Harris on Twitter