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Pictures of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) surrounded by what appears to be marijuana are circulating online and confusing everyone in the process.
The photos, which made the rounds on Twitter this week, show the Republican politician standing next to the iconic green plant.
So why is one of the country’s most conservative lawmakers knee deep in weed? As it turns out, those plants are actually hemp, marijuana’s less fun albeit highly useful cousin.
The collection of photos come from the Kentucky Department of Agriculture’s Flickr account and highlight the senator’s Tuesday tour of the state’s booming hemp industry. McConnell spent the day showing off the cash crop to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue.
As reported by the Courier-Journal, McConnell, who helped legalized hemp in the state in 2018, is hoping to make the plant more accepted by financial regulators.
But is McConnell pro-weed as well? Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case. Although the two plants are the same species, McConnell only seems to like the non-psychoactive version.
In 2018, McConnell stated that he was opposed to marijuana legalization, while Perdue advocated the same stance on Tuesday.
Despite the senator’s vocal opposition, Twitter users who saw the photographs were convinced that Marijuana Mitch was here to give Cocaine Mitch a run for his money.
I mean, how is this photo not a full-blown meme yet?
THIS IS pic.twitter.com/Dpa0X3DmeD— Jeff Dobbs (@jeffdobbs) July 3, 2019
McConnell did, however, meet with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last week to call for regulations that would allow hemp-derived CBD to be lawfully marketed. So maybe he isn’t a total buzzkill.
Either way, marijuana legalization continues to make its way across the country as support for the plant grows. Just this year, Illinois became the 11th state to legalize recreational marijuana.
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Mikael Thalen is a tech and security reporter based in Seattle, covering social media, data breaches, hackers, and more.