Kentucky moving forward with hemp pilot project

02/14/2014 10:07 AM

Agriculture Commissioner James Comer announced Friday he’s giving the green light for a pilot project to grow industrial hemp in Kentucky and hopes to announce more details at event Monday.

Comer, joined by U.S. Sens. Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul, will announce logistics of the project at an event in Knott County Monday morning.

He said Friday his staff and Attorney General Jack Conway’s staff are reviewing the pilot project plan to make sure it meshes with federal parameters for growing the crop. That became possible after a provision made it into the final version of the Farm Bill Congress passed and President Barack Obama signed on Feb. 7.

In a joint press release Friday, Comer and Conway included statements saying they were working together on “implementing the pilot project” to allow the University of Kentucky to grow the crop, which has been illegal since World War II.

And the two are working to request a waiver from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency to allow the crop to be grown in Kentucky for commercial purposes.

But growing it will require getting special permission for border patrol and customs to allow hemp seeds into the country.

“The cooperation between agriculture and law enforcement is a critical element of moving this industry forward,” Comer said in his statement. “I appreciate Attorney General Conway’s willingness to open the lines of communication and help us overcome the legal obstacles to this new market for Kentucky farmers.”

As for the path the hemp provision took to get into the Farm Bill, U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Lewis County, gave an account last week. He said at one point House leaders had moved his bill to create the pilot project into the House Judiciary’s Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations.


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