Kentucky’s Agriculture commissioner recruits some Kentucky ambassadors from the Beltway to muscle through a bill positioning Kentucky for industrial hemp production if the federal government allows.
Senate Bill 50, sponsored by Senate Ag Committee chairman Paul Hornback, calls for the state Ag department to establish conditions and procedures for licensing industrial hemp growers who would have to plant a minimum of 10 acres.
Agriculture Commissioner Comer’s office would assume all of the responsibilities of Senate Bill 50 from certification that hemp seed is below the appropriate THC level, administering background checks and licensing growers, providing GPS mapping of industrial hemp production to law enforcement and inspecting the crops and conducting tests when necessary.
Kentucky State Police Commissioner Rodney Brewer voiced his opposition to the measure out of fear law enforcement would be hard pressed to distinguish between marijuana and hemp in outdoor fields except through laboratory testing.
An unlikely trio of Kentucky’s federal delegation banded together in favor of Senate Bill 50 and made their appeal before the Ag panel: Republican Thomas Massie of the 4th Congressional District; John Yarmuth of the 3rd CD and Kentucky’s junior US Senator Rand Paul.
Paul donned his dress shirt made of hemp made in Canada while pitching the bill before the Senate Ag panel. He said Kentucky is sending profits to our neighbors up north, which he decried as nonsense. Senator Paul has a plan in Congress to legalize industrial hemp production in this country, or seek a waiver for Kentucky.
Kentucky’s third district Congressman John Yarmuth joked about why an urban federal lawmaker from Louisville is interested in industrial hemp legislation. Yarmuth says he’s interested in hemp because it can mean new jobs.
Thomas Massie, Kentucky’s newest Congressman from the fourth district in Northern Kentucky, spoke in favor of Senate Bill 50 from three different perspectives: as a legislator, a farmer, and an entrepreneur. He and Yarmuth have filed a bill in Congress that would exempt hemp with less than .3 percent of THC concentration from marijuana laws. In economic terms,
Massie explained where Kentucky stands in the hemp movement.
Paul Hornback’s Senate Bill 50 cleared the Senate Ag committee unanimously and now heads to the Senate. In a press conference after the vote, Senate Majority Caucus Chair Dan Seum said he hadn’t gauged Republican’s reception to the bill yet and didn’t know if it would be called for a floor vote this week.
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