Conway says Ky. debate over hemp is meaningless until Congress acts

01/25/2013 03:24 PM

Attorney General Jack Conway said this week Kentucky can’t really have a “legitimate discussion” about legalizing industrial hemp unless the federal government legalizes it — the opposite of what other Kentucky officials have said this month.

Agriculture Commissioner James Comer has been leading the charge for industrial hemp, a crop which he says could become the third most lucrative industry in the state. And recently, Republican U.S. Sen. Rand Paul and U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth , D-Louisville, have said Kentucky could seek a federal waiver to start up the industry if the General Assembly sets up a framework to regulate it first.

Conway told Pure Politics’ Don Weber this week that he did not know if he would support legislation to pave a way for the state to begin growing the crop.

“I think our focus need to be at the federal level seeing if they, through our delegation, want to make changes. Then if they want to make changes then we have a dialogue with our law enforcement here,” Conway said (at :50).

But Conway, Kentucky’s top law enforcement official, also said advocates for hemp need to work with the Kentucky State Police, who have been among the biggest skeptics of the hemp proposal.

“Lets sit down with the KSP and say are you okay if it is grown so long as it is grown in licensed areas where we know what it is and we don’t have something that looks identical to marijuana being grown throughout the state and inhibiting our law enforcement efforts,” Conway said (in video below).

Jacqueline Pitts

Jacqueline Pitts joined the cn|2 political team in June 2012. A graduate of WKU, Jacqueline grew up in Nashville, TN and is looking forward to having a front row seat to Kentucky politics. Follow Jacqueline on Twitter @Jacqueline_cn2. She can be reached at 502-792-1114 or


  • viewer wrote on January 25, 2013 03:39 PM :

    Find $3 million dollars to pay KSP for the money they will lose and its a done deal friends of hemp. Where can KSP find $ 3 million ??? They’re already short of funding. To lose this funding will be huge. I say tax the hemp and give it to KSP. I also say that KSP should be over regulating of the hemp fields , not the Ag Dept. There is the $3 million question friends. Solve that and we will have hemp in the bluegrass…..

  • Eye Opener wrote on January 26, 2013 12:21 AM :

    Politics. I wish Conway would just go ahead and announce he is running for Governor. Don’t Penalize Ky, it’s economy and our agriculture industry to try and hold Comer back as your Republican opponent

  • John Riley wrote on January 26, 2013 07:51 AM :

    Attorney General Conway is speaking like a Ruler rather than a Representative and certainly not like a leader. The idea that he would “not support anything unless the federal government changes its rules” without seriously talking about the benefits to Kentucky concerning industrial hemp or any other issue is a view that a growing list of Kentuckians and others across the nation reject.

    If General Conway is representing anything he is blindly representing the (tongue in cheek) “all knowing, all powerful” federal government, regardless of the will of the people and their representatives in Frankfort.

    The current efforts led by Commissioner Comer along with an impressive and growing list of legislators, individuals and organizations who have taken the time to study the issue and to think for themselves are two-fold.

    First to communicate with the federal government and Kentucky’s Congressional delegation requesting a change in policy via a resolution supported first by Kentuckians and the leaders who support them, then by their representatives in the Kentucky Legislature by passing a resolution in favor of policy change at the federal level.

    Second, by being prepared! It is important to be prepared to take advantage of an excellent commercial crop that could create jobs, private investment and economic activity in Kentucky if the federal government indeed does change policy. This must be done by passing legislation that will allow Kentucky to take advantage and hopefully lead the nation in research, production and product and market development.

    We have an entire nation that is increasingly uncomfortable with the heavy hand of the federal government and a Congress who can barely muster any approval ratings in double digits. So if General Conway rejects serious discussion because he honors the federal government, DEA and KSP above that of the citizens of Kentucky and their representatives in Frankfort he is welcome to join the ranks of a shrinking group. But please don’t stand in the way of Kentucky or its citizens to determine a reasonable course of action on this issue.

    The old saying could not be more appropriate, “Lead, Follow or Get Out of the Way”!

  • R Clay wrote on January 26, 2013 09:22 AM :

    Conway’s comments are the first sensible comments I have seen on the “hemp debate.” In addition, as a farmer myself, I would like to stress that commercial hemp is not a viable crop at present down on the farm. I have a 1997 report from UK which make that clear and most of the points it made then are still true. Those pushing it, like Sen. Paul, seem to push it only under their insane view that the government should not regulate anything. The Com. of Agriculture here in the state in pushing it is looking over his shoulder at the crazies in his party, that is all.

  • viewer wrote on January 26, 2013 12:19 PM :

    If hemp crops cover Ky like tobacco once did, they will be no more pot crops to cut down. No pot crops to cut down , no federal funding which is around $3 million a year. The state police needs this money. Im for hemp , but also want the KSP to be funded properly. They protect us all. The good , bad , and the ugly. Which I am 2 of the 3 myself. Find the funding !!!

  • viewer wrote on January 26, 2013 02:09 PM :

    And before we go bashing the KSP lets think a minute. If I’m in need or have to call 911 for something. I want the KSP responding to the call. We need more KSP on the roads. They are well trained and vetted. No, they arent perfect , and a few bad apples do get threw. But I for one would like to see more troopers trained.

  • zing wrote on January 28, 2013 10:27 AM :

    This business about “we can’t have help because we’d lose our grant” is the whining of the welfare mom who makes her lifestyle decisions based on maximizing her check. That said, we still have to be clear-eyed about the limited agro-nomic potential of hemp, which may well be less than help legalization advocates envision. Can’t follow R Clay’s logic that Commissioner Comer is appeasing the ‘crazies’ – the extreme law and order Repubs, at least, don’t want hemp legalized.

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