- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Press, the public and politicians pay attention to marijuana legalization. Now they can also take a peek at “industrial cannabis” — or hemp. The groups Vote Hemp and the Hemp Industries Association staged a unique outreach on Wednesday in the nation’s capital for journalists and the legislatively minded.

They want the federal government to ease restrictions on commercial hemp farming — and have filed a new petition with the Drug Enforcement Administration to have hemp removed from Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Schedule. They have support from a bipartisan group of lawmakers including Sens. Rand Paul, Mitch McConnell and Ron Wyden, plus Reps. Jared Polis and Thomas Massie — who point out that industrial hemp is a $500 million marketplace. In a word, it’s complicated.

All that aside, the two groups host a midday meal and press conference to get their point across. Behold, it’s the “all hemp menu,” at Elizabeth’s on L, an elegant townhouse event site just a few blocks north of the White House.

Creative proprietress Elizabeth Petty herself shares a few details with Inside the Beltway. Among many things, guests will enjoy parsnip soup with lemongrass, hemp milk cheese with smoked paprika, baby kale salad with hempseed vinaigrette and shaved asparagus, hempseed and cumin tortillas with portobello mushrooms and cabbage slaw, plus hemp ice cream on a tide of buttermilk foam.

Former Rep. Dennis Kucinich and his wife Elizabeth attended; she was on the speaker’s roster; he was not. On the agenda: legislative progress regarding hemp cultivation and legalization, plus current hemp farming projects underway in 2016. And who knew? Heavy on omega-3s and protein, hemp seeds and oil turn up in a multitude of foods and cosmetics, while hemp fiber ends up in textiles, paper, clothing and biofuel.

Both the House and the Senate introduced their own versions of the Industrial Hemp Farming Act, which would remove federal restrictions on the cultivation of industrial hemp, “the non-drug oilseed and fiber varieties of cannabis.”

MCCONNELL, TRUMP AND FRENCH

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has weighed in on Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump in a candid interview with Fox News.

“Look, he is not going to be able to change the Republican Party. We know what we believe in,” the Kentucky Republican told the network, suggesting that Mr. Trump should determine where “right of center” is located, and that voters should come to terms with the candidate. “Given the alternative, I don’t have any trouble supporting Donald Trump, and I hope everybody right of center does.”

Mr. McConnell is not keen on Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol’s claim he knows of an alternative conservative third-party candidate. According to Bloomberg Politics, it’s constitutional lawyer David French. But no matter. Mr. McConnell is concerned about the outcome.

“It can only help elect Hillary Clinton. I think after eight years of Barack Obama, the last thing the country needs is four more years just like the last eight,” Mr. McConnell reasoned, adding, “Donald Trump won this thing the good old-fashioned way. He got more votes than anybody else in primary after primary after primary. I think we ought to respect the wishes of the Republican voters.”

THINKING AHEAD

In reference to the possibility that David French is the mystery third-party candidate, Washington Examiner politics editor Jim Antle has two suggested headlines handy should Mr. French win — or lose.

“Victory headline: French fries Clinton, Trump. Defeat headline: French toast,” Mr. Antle notes.

THE PRESS CONFERENCE OF THE YEAR

There was much squawking after Donald Trump’s feisty press conference Tuesday. He first talked about military charities, then went on to deem the press dishonest, shameful and sleazy.

The press fired back with choice headlines: “Trump launches an all out attack on the press” noted CNN. “Trump’s crazy, insane, nonsensical, bonkers and anti-democratic press conference,” declared The Washington Post. “Trump taunts media to its face,” said Politico.

“That was the kind of press conference Republican voters have been dying to see for who knows how many years,” talk radio kingpin Rush Limbaugh told his audience in the aftermath, explaining that the mainstream media was in a fit of pique because they just couldn’t spin this one.

“They are unable to write the daily soap opera script as they have become accustomed to being able to do. They’re unable to do it because Trump is so unpredictable. They’ll write a script, they’ll write a narrative for the day, and Trump will go out and do an appearance and blow it to smithereens, at the same time blowing their plans,” Mr. Limbaugh observed.

A HISTORIC SCRAMBLE FOR RE-ELECTION

Some lawmakers have some drama all their own this fall. There’s a nearly record-breaking number of Republican senators running for re-election, notes Eric Ostermeier, a University of Minnesota political professor.

The Republican Senate re-election field is 21 — the largest number of GOP incumbents vying for another term since 1926, when 28 ran for re-election. Seven lost their bid that year.

The party average is 13, Mr. Ostermeier says, noting that Republicans currently hold 54 seats entering November’s contests. The crowded field is a byproduct of the tea party’s glory days.

“Part of the reason an elevated number of Republicans are facing re-election this cycle is because the GOP netted six seats during the tsunami of 2010,” he adds. Find this and other observations from the good professor at SmartPoliticsBlog.org.

POLL DU JOUR

70 percent of Americans report they are frustrated with the presidential election; 65 percent are interested, 55 percent feel helpless, 52 percent are angry, 37 percent are hopeful and 31 percent bored.

69 percent would support open primaries, where any registered voters can participate in either party’s primary or caucus.

49 percent say a two-party system has problems but could still work with improvements.

38 percent describe the two-party system as “seriously broken”; 13 percent say it works “fairly well.”

Source: An AP/NORC poll of 1,060 U.S. adults conducted May 12-15 and released Sunday.

• Squawks and peeps to [email protected]


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