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. He is now the Anchor and Managing Editor of 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 @NickStorm_cn2. Nick can be reached at 502-792-1107 or nicholas.storm@twcnews.com.

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