The U.S. Senate’s top Republican and Democrat might be working together to legalize industrial hemp, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are ready to team up broader marijuana reform.
“I do not have any plans to endorse legalization of marijuana,” Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said on Tuesday when asked about whether he is prepared to back a cannabis descheduling bill that Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said he will file soon.
“These are two entirely separate plants,” said the GOP leader, who recently filed his own legislation to remove industrial hemp from the federal definition of marijuana.
The Democratic leader became a cosponsor of that bill this week.
“There is a lot of confusion about what hemp is,” McConnell said. “It has an illicit cousin, which I choose not to embrace.”
Reporter Matt Laslo, who posed the cannabis query to McConnell, reported the news to Schumer moments later at a separate press conference.
“Aw come on, Mitch,” Schumer replied. “I think this is something that is long overdue. I would hope to see it happen. I would hope the feds would take the heavy hand off and let each state decide to do what it wants to do.”