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Kentucky Legislature Passes Industrial Hemp Bill

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NAIHC.orgMarch 27, 2013 – In the final hours of its 2013 session March 26, the Kentucky legislature reached a compromise on legislation to allow Kentucky farmers to once again grow industrial hemp. The bill which had been blocked in the House finally passed 88-4 in the House and 35-1 in the state Senate. 

The remaining hurdles to re-introducing the crop in Kentucky are that Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear (D) could veto the bill – and that growing industrial hemp remains banned at the federal level under the Controlled Substances Act which links industrial hemp with its distant cousin marijuana. For testimony in favor of the bill from NAIHC Board members, click here.

 Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer championed the Kentucky legislation and hopes to re-start industrial hemp growing in the state by obtaining a federal waiver “to do a pilot project very soon.” Comer explained that “This historic legislation puts Kentucky in position to be first in line if and when the federal government legalizes production of industrial hemp. By passing this bill, the General Assembly has signaled that Kentucky is serious about restoring industrial hemp production to the Commonwealth and doing it in the right way. That will give Kentucky’s congressional delegation more leverage when they seek a federal waiver allowing Kentucky farmers to grow hemp.”

U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and U.S. Congressmen John Yarmuth (D-KY) and Thomas Massie (D-KY) all support industrial hemp production and are working on passing federal legalization legislation. Following the passage of Kentucky’s industrial hemp bill this week, Sen. Paul commented “Senate Bill 50 is an important step forward in the reintroduction of industrial hemp in Kentucky. I have pledged, along with Rep. John Yarmuth, to seek a waiver when a regulatory framework is in place. I will follow through on that pledge and I hope that Kentucky will soon start growing hemp, creating jobs and leading the nation in this industry again.”

Sen. McConnell said “I will continue to work with Senator Paul on a federal approach that would enable Kentucky farmers to cultivate and profit from industrial hemp in a way that does not compromise Kentucky law enforcement’s marijuana eradication efforts or in any way promote illegal drug use.”