Attorney General weighs in on hemp regulations; Comer says he is "tickled to death" with the opinion

03/07/2013 06:05 PM

Agriculture Commissioner James Comer is still hopeful that his main legislative priority of setting up a regulatory framework for hemp will become law this session but is now down to a political game of one-on-one with the Democratic House Speaker.

Comer and House Speaker Greg Stumbo have been going round and round in the press as Stumbo has opposed the legislation. Now, Stumbo has the bill effectively locked up from going to the House floor, while Comer has ramped up his public relations message to pressure House leadership to let it get a vote.

Stumbo even asked Attorney General Jack Conway this week for an opinion to determine whether Kentucky’s one-sentence statute already on the books is sufficient to regulate hemp if the federal government legalizes the crop.

On Thursday, Conway replied to Stumbo, a former Attorney General himself, that:
bq. “If federal law is changed but no federal regulatory scheme is provided, industrial hemp would be essentially unregulated in Kentucky after the mandatory adoption of the federal definition. The regulations in KRS Chapter 260 deal with research on industrial hemp, and there are no other regulations or restrictions on industrial hemp generally at the state level if industrial hemp is no longer included in the definition of marijuana in KRS 218.010(21).”

Republican Agriculture Commissioner James Comer said he was, “tickled to death with his opinion.”

“It pretty much said why we need to have Senate Bill 50, we need to have a framework for if, and when the federal government legalizes industrial hemp,” Comer said.

Stumbo though claimed he was vindicated in his question to the Attorney General and that the bill would rest in the House Rules Committee, “for awhile,” essentially putting it on legislative ice.

Only four working days are left in the 2013 General Assembly (Friday, Monday and March 25 and 26). That has everyone wondering what will happen to the bill, or if it will be used later in the session as a bargaining chip.

Gov/ Steve Beshear remained non-committal on the hemp bill, as well as on other major legislation, when reporters asked him if Stumbo should allow a vote on the legislation.

“With several days left in the session I’m not going to get into the weeds of different bills,” Beshear told WHAS-84 radio reporter Jim Williams. “I bet they’ll somehow work through those issues.”

To see the full interview on the ups and downs of the hemp bill with Ag. Commish Comer click below:

About Nick Storm

Nick Storm joined cn|2 in December 2011 as a reporter for Pure Politics. Throughout his career, Nick has covered several big political stories up close, including interviewing President Barack Obama on the campaign trail back in 2008. Nick says he loves being at the forefront of Kentucky politics and working with the brightest journalists in the commonwealth. Follow Nick on Twitter @Nick_Storm. Nick can be reached at 502-792-1107 or



  • viewer wrote on March 08, 2013 01:55 PM :

    Ryan would you ask Comer about Monsanto lawsuit that is going on in federal court ? Ky is a farming state and I would like to hear what he has to say about this. Thanks

  • Cat Balz wrote on March 08, 2013 02:16 PM :

    Sorry, Jamie, this issue is deader than disco, Franco, and Chavez, and not all of the arrows in your back came from Floyd County. No sir, many came from Pulaski County and Hal Rogers’ Operation Unite gang. The Bully from Floyd and Hal are actually quite tight.

  • viewer wrote on March 08, 2013 10:24 PM :

    Anyone who has ever read any of my posts knows that I am not a Stumbo fan. I would like to see hemp grown in the state of Kentucky. I give Jamie Comer all the credit in the world for bringing this topic out and discussing it the way he has. It took courage and vision on his part to get it where it is.

    I wish the state police and Unite went with a different reason for opposing hemp; other than that they could not distinguish between marijuana and hemp. This is one of the reasons why I hate politics and how government is funded. I have said from the beginning that all of this boils down to $5 million/year to fund the drug task force. Bottom line, this is what it is about. The best story they could sell the public was that law enforcement can’t tell the difference between hemp and marijuana. Law enforcement has the odds stacked against them dealing with the carnage that is produced by the drug dealers and the drug addicts that they see on a daily basis in our state. They need this money and a lot more to try to just manage this epidemic that the Commonwealth is facing. I truly wish they had just come out and said that; instead of coming up with the other lame excuse. It made them look Mayberryish, and they must believe that the public is too naive to see when the wool is being pulled over their eyes.

    Now that we know it has support in the state legislature. Hopefully, by next year when they are back in session, Hal Rogers and Mitch McConnell can get federal appropriations of at least $5 million needed to fund the state police properly, and maybe they could find more. Eastern Kentucky has become a third world country with unemployment and this drug crisis. I can name on one hand the times that I ‘ve agreed with Stumbo, and although I wish they had taken a different route; I think the right decision has been made to put this off until the federal and state officials can find the money needed to help fight the drug trade. I hope that Jamie Comer and Rodney Brewer can work together going forward where hemp can be grown, and law enforcement can have adequate funding. I think that both of these men are fighting for what they believe is in the state’s best interest.

  • sam pierce wrote on March 09, 2013 12:38 PM :

    Amen to Cat Balz and viewer. Don’t give up the good fight Jamie Comer.

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