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Kentucky Attorney General Reviews Hemp Bill

By Associated Press March 9, 2013 Kentucky Attorney General Reviews Hemp Bill
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LOUISVILLE, KY — Kentucky’s agriculture commissioner said Thursday that a legal review reinforces the need for an industrial hemp bill, noting state regulations are needed in case a federal ban on its production is lifted without clear guidance.

The review by Attorney General Jack Conway’s office in Frankfort comes as hemp supporters seek a showdown vote in the House on Senate Bill 50, which would set up a system to license hemp growers if production becomes legal.

The bill, which has already passed in the Senate, cleared a House committee this week but its prospects of coming up in the full House are uncertain.

The review didn’t assess the hemp bill but looked at whether existing Kentucky law would allow Bluegrass state farmers to grow hemp if the federal ban is ended.

Hemp thrived in Kentucky generations ago but has been banned for decades since the federal government classified it as a controlled substance related to marijuana. Hemp has a negligible content of THC, the psychoactive compound that gives marijuana users a high.

“If federal law is changed but no federal regulatory scheme is provided, industrial hemp would be essentially unregulated in Kentucky,” the AG’s review said.

State Agriculture Commissioner James Comer said the findings underscore the need for state legislation to regulate hemp as a precursor to the crop’s possible revival.

“Without it, achieving a waiver from the federal government to be the first state to grow hemp will be almost impossible because there will be no safeguards in place,” Comer said in a statement. “Other states have already passed similar programs.”

House Speaker Greg Stumbo, who requested the review, remained skeptical about the need for the hemp legislation. The Prestonsburg Democrat said the federal government would never legalize the crop without regulating it.

“You can bet on that,” Stumbo said in Frankfort.

Stumbo is a deep skeptic of the hemp bill, citing concerns from Kentucky State Police. Officials with the state’s lead law-enforcement agency worry that marijuana growers could use hemp fields as cover for pot plants.

Hemp advocates say the possibility of an unregulated hemp industry should be more concerning for law enforcement.

Under the bill, the state would have GPS coordinates of licensed hemp fields. Hemp growers would undergo criminal background checks, and each grower would be limited to 10 acres per license. A production license would be valid for one year.

In a letter to Stumbo, Conway’s office said the findings did not constitute a formal opinion. The Associated Press obtained a copy of the letter, dated Wednesday, as the result of an open-records request.

Comer has championed the hemp bill, saying its reintroduction would give farmers a new crop and would create processing jobs to turn the fiber and seeds into products ranging from paper to biofuels. Dozens of countries already produce the crop.

Hemp supporters say Kentucky needs the regulations to be at the forefront of the crop’s comeback if the federal government gives its OK.

“If we don’t act now, Speaker Stumbo will kill our chances to be first for these jobs,” Comer said.

Stumbo said the bill would break new ground in Kentucky agriculture.

“I don’t know of any precedent for the agriculture commissioner to issue a license to grow a crop,” he said. “You can grow whatever crop you want to without a license from him. It’s like tobacco, you didn’t get any approval from the state to grow tobacco under the quota system. You had to get the federal regulatory approval. If the feds lift the (hemp) ban, I’m sure it will be somewhat the same. You’ll have to do whatever they require and you’ll have to get whatever permit they require.”

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  • mac

    im not sure what is making me laugh but the idea that Hemp is an illegal crop is nearly comical. How is this even an issue? The whole cops worrying about the resemblence to marijuana is absolutely laughable. And lets imagine for just a minute that people could hide MJ in Hemp fields and that cross-pollination (seeding buds and lower potency) was merely an old wives’ tale, So whats the problem with that again? There is already more MJ on the streets than people know what to do with, how is making sure people dont get high have anything to do with public safety? How about quit spending so much time/effort enforcing archaic non-productive laws and quit worrying about what somebody is growing and start worrying about homicide, theft, drunk drivers, and domestic violence…but i guess that would mean there wouldnt be as much free pot to smoke in the evidence room…

    All this over a non-drug crop with huge varieties of uses and a boon for industrial profit.HAHAHA man, its hard to stop laughing once you’ve started crying

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kevin-Hunt/100003205282238 Kevin Hunt

      Down in Florida, the cops ‘lose’ bales of weed from the evidence room and in Kansas the cops claim that ‘mice ate the missing weed’.

  • Joe

    Apparently hemp is a threat to a lot of businesses. They used to make paper out of hemp and Henry Ford even made a car from hemp, which was lighter and stronger than steel, and also ran on hemp fuel. So as you can see, a lot of business had/have reason to not want hemp to be used to replace their income (shocker). I never realized all of this until recently, hopefully the word gets out.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kevin-Hunt/100003205282238 Kevin Hunt

    KY needs to vote Stumbo out of office. He is at odds with the 70% of Kentuckians who want industrial hemp agriculture.

  • rwilliam davis

    The bottom line is that if any state or region has a thriving hemp industry, the economic growth experienced within that region would divert the profits away from current corporate monopolies which have a choke hold on all of us. Hemp processing facilities would be within 50 miles of the farms, and would produce clothing, biodegradable plastics, building materials and fuel. And the hemp economy would enrich the localities which embrace this industry.

    The real reason hemp is illegal is that it offers all of us an opportunity to declare our independence from the big oil, big chemical and big banking cartel which has ruled this country with its increasing financial control of the economy and the federal government for the past 100 years.

    If you are tired of being led around by the nose by Wall Street Bankers and corrupt politicians, and of sending trillions of dollars and jobs out of Kentucky to make others rich and powerful, re-legalize our right to self-determination. Free Kentucky farmers to grow the most versatile and valuable crop in the world – hemp.