Hemp bill will become law despite Gov. Beshear's concerns

04/05/2013 11:54 AM

Gov. Steve Beshear allowed a bill which sets up the framework to regulate industrial hemp production in Kentucky to become law without his signature.

Senate Bill 50 passed the legislature during the final hour of the general assembly The bill passed 88-4 in the House and 35-1 in the Senate, landing the bill in front of Beshear who had expressed concerns.

“We have a tremendous drug problem in Kentucky, and I want to make sure that we don’t do anything that will increase that drug problem. I still share the same concerns our law enforcement officers have about the impact hemp cultivation may have on our drug eradication efforts,” Beshear told reporters in Frankfort on Friday.

But even with those concerns, Beshear said the bottom line is that the bill wouldn’t allow for industrial hemp to be grown or sold until the federal government takes the action of legalizing the crop in some way.

So a federal waiver for Kentucky to grow hemp in Kentucky is still in play, but don’t look for the governor to ask for that waiver.

Beshear said if the crop is legalized any concerns could be dealt with through changes in future general assemblies.

Republican Agriculture Commissioner James Comer who led the fight for hemp in the Commonwealth as chair of the Industrial Hemp Commission celebrated the decision in a statement to the press.

“Six months ago, industrial hemp was on nobody’s radar. Now, SB 50 will become the law of the Commonwealth. I’m grateful to all the people — legislators, farmers, business people, Republicans, Democrats — who made their voices heard on this issue, and to Sen. Paul Hornback for taking a chance and sponsoring the bill,” Comer said.

Comer said that he does plan to go to Washington D.C. and along with the federal delegation urge federal authorities and the Obama administration to grant permission to grow industrial hemp in Kentucky.


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