Conway's advisory opinion throws cold water on hemp industry

09/25/2013 01:00 PM

Preparing to grow industrial hemp or growing the crop without federal approval will open up Kentucky farmers to prosecution, Attorney General Jack Conway said in an advisory opinion Wednesday.

Conway was responding in the advisory opinion to a request from the Kentucky State Police, who expressed concern that the Kentucky Industrial Hemp Commission was moving forward with the licensing of farmers to grow the crop. Specifically, hemp proponents on the commission pointed to the U.S. Justice Department’s decision not to intervene in Colorado and Washington, where voters chose to legalize marijuana.

But Conway’s opinion said that doesn’t apply to Kentucky until the commonwealth gets a specific waiver or Congress legalizes the crop.

“Any individual or entity that invests in anticipation of growing industrial hemp in the near future, and any individual or entity that intentionally grows hemp within the Commonwealth, will expose themselves to potential criminal liability and the possible seizure of property by federal or state law enforcement agencies,” Conway’s opinion said.

The Kentucky General Assembly approved a law in the 2013 General Assembly to lay the groundwork for a hemp industry, starting with a pilot project through the University of Kentucky and creating a framework for licensing of farmers to grow the cannabis plant once the federal government approves it.

(Attorney General Jack Conway will answer questions about it on tonight’s edition of Pure Politics at 7 p.m. EST on Time Warner’s cn|2 network)


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