Rand Paul Backs Dad On Legalizing Hemp; Libertarians Shrug

After forsaking his dad for rival presidential candidate Mitt Romney last Thursday, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) joined Ron Paul's movement to legalize hemp, boosting his libertarian bona fides. But only slightly.

"You can't make up for the damage that Mitt Romney will do with a few good votes as U.S. senator," said Carla Howell, executive director of the Libertarian Party, on Monday.

The legislation, which Sen. Paul cosponsored Friday along with Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), mirrors the pro-hemp legislation introduced in the House by his father, Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), a libertarian favorite.

Federal policy currently fails to distinguish between oilseed (that is, pot) and fiber varieties of cannabis. The proposed legislation would allow for such a distinction, leaving hemp to be regulated by state permitting programs rather than federal law.

The Paul-Wyden bill, which would free farmers to grow industrial hemp, was proposed as an amendment to the omnibus farm bill.

Rand Paul's support for hemp legislation came after the Kentucky senator stirred libertarian outrage with his endorsement of Romney, whom his father has declined to support.

"No true libertarian, no true friend of liberty, and no true blue Tea Partier could possibly even consider, much less actually endorse or approve of, the Father of Obamacare, Big Government tax and spender, Republican Mitt Romney," the Libertarian Party wrote on its website.

Contacted by The Huffington Post on Monday, Howell signaled that party members remained unimpressed with Rand Paul, a self-described constitutional conservative and libertarian.

"It's always good when somebody does the right thing, and we applaud those specific good actions, but it doesn't change the fundamental assertions that we made in the press release," said Howell. "Mitt Romney is about as big-government as it gets: tax and spender, father of Obamacare, initiated and championed Romneycare with no provocation from Democrats in Massachusetts ... He's actually more of a danger to liberty than Obama is, and to endorse a man like that, there's just no excuse for it."

Rand Paul's office did not return a request for comment.