Rand Paul says Ky. could get a federal waiver to grow industrial hemp

01/16/2013 04:40 PM

If the Kentucky General Assembly passes an industrial hemp bill in the 2013 legislative session, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul said there could be a way around the federal ban on hemp.

Paul said if Kentucky acts, he’ll lobby President Barack Obama’s administration to lobby for a federal waiver or exemption to allow Kentucky farmers to grow the plant. Currently, hemp is categorized as a controlled substance alongside marijuana even though advocates say hemp does not have the same properties as the drug.

Republican Agriculture Commissioner James Comer is leading the charge in Kentucky to legalize hemp. Comer chairs the commission which has crafted legislation for the 2013 session to lay the groundwork for the industry.

Paul said he was privately meeting with Comer on Wednesday to talk more about his strategy at the federal level as well as about concerns the Kentucky State Police have about the crop.

The main obstacle for industrial hemp to this point has been law enforcement. Kentucky State Police, in particular, are concerned marijuana plants could be hidden among hemp fields. But Paul said modern GPS technology could be a solution to that.

Along with Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, Paul is co-sponsoring legislation in the Senate to legalize hemp production across the United States. U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie has also co-sponsored similar legislation in the House.

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