Compromise on hemp bill in the works; Democratic leadership skips commission meeting

03/21/2013 01:27 PM

FRANKFORT — Leaders of the Kentucky Industrial Hemp Industry said Thursday they’re making another effort to save the bill that would set up a regulatory framework for the industry but without compromising some of its key principles.

Sen. Paul Hornback, R-Shelbyville, told the commission that he was meeting with Rep. Rocky Adkins, D-Sandy Hook, on Friday to work out a compromise on Adkins’ latest proposed amendment to Senate Bill 50.

Adkins, the House Democratic floor leader, offered an amendment to the bill which would create a five-year demonstration project by the University of Kentucky to grown the crop.

Adkins and other members of House leadership were invited to Thursday’s meeting, but none attended.

Agriculture Commissioner James Comer told the group that no compromise language is in place, but Comer told reporters after the meeting there were several areas he was unwilling to give up.

If the House and Senate can agree on the hemp bill, the federal government would still have to grant a waiver — or legalize the crop outright — before the plant could be grown. It has been against federal law to grow hemp since the post-World War II era because of the plant’s similarity to marijuana.

Jonathan Miller, a former state treasurer, told the group that the Obama administration is being forced by more states to act on cannabis legislation. Eleven states currently are pushing to go well beyond hemp with pending medicinal marijuana legislation, so Miller says acting on hemp could be a political win for the administration.


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