Sue Nelson, the Tea Party member challenging incumbent conservative Republican state representative Mary Franson, continued her holy war against ditch weed on Facebook Tuesday. Along with several other Minnesota Republicans, Franson supports allowing Minnesota farmers to grow hemp for fiber, building materials and other non-recreational purposes.
Meanwhile, both chambers of Congress have approved an industrial hemp provision that was quietly rolled into the Farm Bill.
On Facebook Tuesday, Nelson wrote:
I believe in the values of House District 8B; those of family, faith and personal freedom; and I am worried by the current representation of our district. Current representation that is working to legalize a controlled substance that many, including law enforcement, believe will have a detrimental effect on our schools and children. Current representation that nearly allowed this District to fall under liberal control during the last election.
As your State Representative, I will never sacrifice the values of my neighbors, friends and constituents for my own political gain. I grew up in this District, I raised a family alongside you and with your support I will bring rural integrity to St. Paul.
Franson does not support legalizing medical or recreational marijuana, but has co-authored a bill to allow Minnesota farmers to grow industrial hemp.
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Her position isn’t outlandish. Hemp was grown legally in Minnesota until 1960 and persists as “ditch weed” scorned by recreational and medicinal users. The Minnesota Farmers Union supports allowing producers to grow industrial hemp; the American Farm Bureau Federation announced its opposition to the classification of hemp as a controlled substance earlier this month. The Republican Party of Minnesota’s platform opposes the imposition of federal drug laws, while allowing states to set their own laws. It is silent about industrial hemp.
In 2011, the Minnesota Independent reported in Minnesota House considers hemp bill, that a handful of mostly rural Republicans supported a hemp farming bill:
Republicans who introduced the bill are Paul Torkelson of Nelson Township, Rod Hamilton of Mountain Lake, Greg Davids of Preston, Bob Gunther of Fairmont, Jim Abeler of Anoka, and Mark Buesgens of Jordan
Hamilton, who works in agri-business, is frequently the point man for Republican talking points on farming and rural Minnesota.
Or perhaps Nelson knows something about “rural integrity” that Hamilton does not.
Those rural Republicans are not alone. The new Farm Bill heading toward President Obama’s desk contains pro-industrial hemp language supported by Republicans, the West Central Tribune reports:
With marijuana laws loosening, supporters of industrial hemp saw an opening and pushed through a provision that allows colleges and state agencies to grow and conduct research on the crop in the nine states where it is legal. Kentucky is among them and Mitch McConnell, the top Republican in the Senate, was a big backer of the provision. Industrial hemp, which can be used to make clothing, food, building materials and a number of other products, has low levels of the chemical that gets people high. Growing or using it is illegal under federal law.
With both major farm organizations favoring more freedom for American producers to grow industrial hemp (like the Founding Fathers did), Bluestem begins to wonder just what these “values” are that Nelson is promoting.