Massie says there is more work to do in D.C. to build a coalition for deregulated hemp
09/03/2014 11:14 AM
Kentucky’s Fourth District U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Vanceburg, says he will need to keep gathering supporters for deregulating industrial hemp in the House of Representatives before the crop can have commercial success in the state.
Massie has already filed a bill to deregulate the crop, which is now being grown in Kentucky in pilot projects.
“My initiative in Congress is to get a full version of industrial hemp act passed,” Massie said. “What we need to do before you will see any commercial sale growing of hemp is we need to remove all legal barriers to growing hemp.”
State Agriculture Commissioner James Comer told Pure Politics in August that there is already a demand in Kentucky for the crop, and that he plans to testify before Congress on Massie’s bill.
Massie said the pilot projects underway in the state could prove viability of the crop, but will have a larger impact on public perception.
“I think the biggest thing you will coming out of these pilot programs is the destigmatization of hemp,” Massie said. “I’ve seen law enforcement officers standing in the fields looking at it, I’ve seen the public there it’s just getting people familiarized with a crop that’s not a drug.”
There are currently 49 co-sponsors to the legislation Massie has filed, but he said he needs more to join on for the bill to have a chance in Congress.
As the push to grow industrial hemp continues in Kentucky and around the nation, there are also 24 states which have enacted medical marijuana legislation which Massie said does “muddy the waters a little bit.”
Massie, who is a Libertarian-leaning lawmaker, said the decision on marijuana should be left up to states to decide. The people in Massie’s district who have responded to his polling say they support medical marijuana in Kentucky.
“Three quarters of my constituents are in favor of letting states decide not just hemp regulations, but the medical marijuana regulations,” Massie said. “Most of them are in favor of allowing medical marijuana with a doctor’s prescription.”
The federal government has taken a more relaxed stance to the recreational legalization of marijuana in Colorado and Washington, but Massie said there are mixed signals from the DEA as they have confiscated hemp seeds coming into Kentucky.
“The will of the president is not clear,” Massie said. “I think he is sending mix signals.”
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