Kentucky leaders ask for clarification on hemp production laws
By Ted Sloan

Posted on January 1, 0001 12:00 AM

Kentucky farmers should be permitted to grow industrial hemp under existing federal and state law, Agriculture Commissioner James Comer and other Kentucky leaders wrote in a letter to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration seeking clarification of the agency's position on industrial hemp.

"The federal government has said it will respect state laws regarding marijuana cultivation and sales, so we feel that hemp should be treated the same way," Commissioner Comer said. "Farmers and processors need to be assured that they won't be harassed by the DEA if they grow and process hemp, and that's the purpose of this letter."

Comer was joined by U.S. Sen. Rand Paul; U.S. Reps. John Yarmuth and Thomas Massie; and Brian Furnish, chairman of the Kentucky Industrial Hemp Commission, in asking the DEA to clarify that hemp production and processing are legal in states such as Kentucky that have legalized hemp and enacted a framework for licensing and regulating hemp production. The letter was mailed to Washington on Tuesday.

"There is solid standing for Kentucky to move forward with the reintroduction of industrial hemp," said Sen. Rand Paul. "It is time for the Department of Justice to recognize this and allow production to move forward. Thanks to the regulatory framework set up by Senate Bill 50, we are in in a position to make industrial hemp production in Kentucky a reality again."

Senate Bill 50 is legislation passed in the 2013 Kentucky General Assembly that creates a regulatory framework for hemp production and declares that hemp is outside the scope of the state's Controlled Substances Act.

"The production of industrial hemp will strengthen Kentucky's economy and help our farmers and businesses expand and thrive," Rep. Yarmuth said. "I am happy to join my fellow Kentuckians in asking the DEA to take a common-sense approach to hemp production in our Commonwealth."

"In light of the recent U.S. Department of Justice guidance and passage of Senate Bill 50 in the Kentucky legislature, I am proud to stand with Commissioner Comer, Senator Paul, and Congressman Yarmuth to lead Kentucky's charge to once again allow farmers to grow industrial hemp," Rep. Massie said. "To further support Commissioner Comer's efforts to provide more jobs and opportunities for Kentucky's farmers, manufacturers, and consumers, I will also continue to seek passage of HR 525, the Industrial Hemp Farming Act, which now has 49 cosponsors in the U.S. House of Representatives."

The letter to DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart declares Kentucky's intention to move forward with industrial hemp production. "It would defy common sense to allow states to move forward with marijuana activity [in states where marijuana is legal], but ignore states that have passed laws allowing for the production of industrial hemp," the letter states.

"Simply put, it is our position that neither federal nor state law, nor current [U.S. Department of Justice] guidance, prohibits the production of industrial hemp in Kentucky," the letter states.

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