House resolution to remove hemp from definition of marijuana passes Senate committee

02/27/2018 04:47 PM

FRANKFORT – A House concurrent resolution to urge Congress to amend the federal Controlled Substance Act to remove hemp from the definition of marijuana was unanimously passed by the Senate Standing Committee on Agriculture on Tuesday.

HCR 35, sponsored by Rep. DJ Johnson is designed to open the door to expand the hemp industry in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

Commissioner of Agriculture Ryan Quarles says that he welcomes the resolution because of the potential economic effect the crop could have on Kentucky.

“This is important for Kentucky because Kentucky has laid the groundwork for the national framework to reintroduce an old crop that has big potential for our future,” Quarles said. “It’s important that Congress act now because we have a lot of folks who want to invest in Kentucky because we’ve done a great job in attracting and building jobs, attracting investment, but if you commercialize the crop, it’ll only create more investment.”

Quarles said that an expansion of the production of hemp will have nothing but a positive effect on Kentucky farmers.

“We hope that industrial hemp, like other alternative crops, kenaf, hops, and also connecting our corn growers with the growing of our distilling industry in Kentucky, provides more arrows in the quiver for Kentucky farmers, and when it comes to industrial hemp, this is one of those crops which we hope has a big future, and a lot of potential.”

Generally, people who oppose the production of hemp do so because of its relationship to marijuana.

Quarles believes that hemp advocates have done a great job recently at educating the public to calm those fears.

“When you are looking at industrial hemp with marijuana, there are some folks that have some legitimate concerns, but at the same time, we have developed a framework to help grow this crop,” Quarles said. “We work closely with law enforcement to help distinguish the two, and I think that’s something that, over the past four years, we’ve put a lot of time and effort in at the department of Agriculture and it’s paying off right now.”

Sen. Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, while supporting the legislation, expressed his concern about the General Assembly, as a body, telling Congress what to do.

“We very rarely urge Congress to do anything from this body, and it’s because we don’t frankly like it when they tell us what to do,” Thayer said. “So, we’re a little uneasy about doing this because we don’t frankly want to tell Congress what to do.”


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