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Erwin A. "Bud" Sholts, Chairman



Kentucky Pursues Federal Hemp Legalization

Attention: open in a new window. PDFPrintE-mail, May 24, 2013 - “The United States is the only industrialized nation that does not allow industrial hemp production.” That’s one of the many facts highlighted in a new “Industrial Hemp Facts” page on the Kentucky Department of Agriculture website.

The Kentucky page also points out that:

  • “Industrial hemp is a variety of Cannabis sativa and is of the same plant species as marijuana.”

  • “However, hemp is genetically different and distinguished by its use and chemical makeup.”

  • “Hemp plants are low in THC (delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, marijuana's primary psychoactive chemical).”

  • “THC levels for hemp generally are less than 1 percent.”

  • “Federal legislation that would exclude hemp from the legal definition of marijuana would set a ceiling of 0.3 percent THC for a cannabis variety to be identified as hemp.”

  • “Several states have legalized the cultivation and research of industrial hemp, including Colorado, Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, and West Virginia.”

  • “However, a grower still must get permission from the DEA in order to grow hemp, or face the possibility of federal charges or property confiscation, even if he or she has a state-issued permit.”

  • “Legislation filed in both houses of Congress would exclude hemp from the legal definition of marijuana.”

The Kentucky state site lists a wide variety of current industrial hemp products ranging from fabrics and textiles to paper, auto parts and pharmaceuticals. It concludes that due to the federal ban on growing hemp in the U.S., the U.S. replies on imports to supply the market. Supplying this growing market could boost returns for American farmers, according to the Kentucky fact page, because “Current industry estimates report that U.S. retail sales of all hemp-based products may exceed $300 million per year.”

One measure of the potential value for U.S. farmers is that currently Canada grows over 38,000 acres of industrial hemp, generating an estimated gross revenue of over $30 million per year. For 2010, Canada exported industrial hemp in the form of hemp seeds, fiber, oil and oil-cake worth over $10 million, with most exports going to the U.S.

Along with facts, the Kentucky Department of Agriculture provides many hemp-related resources. These resources include links to proposed legislation and video clips of Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), North American Industrial Hemp Council Board Member James Woolsey, and others testifying in favor of legislation to re-authorize industrial hemp as a crop for American farmers.

Visit Kentucky’s video clips page at and the Industrial Hemp Facts page at

For more of Kentucky’s facts on industrial hemp, download the Kentucky Department of Agriculture’s Powerpoint presentation at Among the facts:

  • “75-90% of all paper in the world was made with hemp fiber until 1883.”

  • “93% of the world’s paper is made of wood.”

  • “Trees 30% cellulose, Hemp 85% cellulose.”

  • “Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence on hemp paper.”

  • “One product that will not be produced from industrial hemp is marijuana.”

  • “Industrial hemp will cross-pollinate with marijuana greatly lowering the drug content of the marijuana.”

  • “Hemp 0.30% (THC drug).”

  • “Marijuana 10-30% THC.”

The Kentucky Powerpoint also provides information on growing and harvesting practices, yields and expected returns. It concludes that “Studies have shown that hemp could be at least the third most profitable crop in Kentucky” and that “Industrial hemp as a product has nearly unlimited potential.”