Saturday, April 06, 2013

Kentucky governor allows hemp bill

Today was the day many were waiting for - to see if Kentucky governor Steve Beshear would appove
or veto the hemp bill. He did neither. He took the coward's way out and just let it go. But at least we can't complain. Next step is federal approval, and for that we now have almost 1,000 signatures on the petition to the White House - Feel free to add your name if you have not already. Below is the article by Joseph Gerth in the Courier-Journal:

Gov. Steve Beshear will allow legislation permitting hemp production in Kentucky to become law without his signature, and supporters of the measure say they plan to turn their attention toward Washington in hopes of knocking down federal barriers to the crop.

The bill will officially become law at the end of the day today but will have no real effect unless the federal government declassifies hemp as an illegal drug or grants Kentucky a waiver that would allow people to start growing the plant, which is native to Kentucky.
“We’re going to be figuring out a strategy about going to Washington and trying to get a waiver or trying to get them to lift the ban,” said state Rep. Paul Hornback, R-Shelbyville, the primary sponsor of the bill.
Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, a key proponent of the legislation, said he plans to talk next week with U.S. Sen. Rand Paul and U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth about how to obtain federal permission to grow the crop. “I hope farmers can start putting seeds in the ground next spring.”
Hemp fiber, oil and seed have a variety of uses, including clothing and fuel. Hornback said the market for hemp products in the United States is more than $400 million annually, which he expects to increase if cultivation resumes in the country.
Hornback and Comer argued that, as one of the first states to allow hemp farming, Kentucky could attract processors they speculate could employ hundreds. Opponents have been concerned that legal hemp would complicate efforts to spot illegal marijuana plants. The two are identical in appearance, but hemp has a fraction of marijuana’s intoxicating ingredient THC.
Hornback hopes to arrange meetings with people from the White House, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and hemp processors to demonstrate how Kentucky would license hemp farmers and conduct tests to make sure they are growing hemp and not marijuana.
Beshear said he was torn between Kentucky’s need for more farm income and concern about hemp’s similarity to marijuana.
“I strongly support efforts to create additional legal cash crops for our farming communities. At the same time we have a tremendous drug problem in Kentucky, and I want to make sure that we don’t do anything that will increase that drug problem,” he said.
Hornback said it’s understandable that Beshear wouldn’t sign the bill because State Police Commissioner Rodney Brewer has opposed the measure, saying that it’s impossible for officers to tell the difference between hemp and marijuana.
“I still share some of the same concerns that our law enforcement officials have about the impact that hemp cultivation may have on our drug eradication efforts,” Beshear said. “But the bottom line is that (Senate Bill) 50 won’t allow industrial hemp to be grown or sold unless and until the federal government takes the very big step of legalizing the crop in some way.”
“I don’t take offense to that,” Hornback said. “I understand his position.”
Comer said he’s not surprised Beshear didn’t sign the bill. “The whole time I’ve been in Frankfort, nobody has rolled out the red carpet for me on this,” he said.
Under the law, the University of Kentucky will house the Kentucky Industrial Hemp Commission, which will oversee hemp production. But the state Department of Agriculture can — at the commission’s request — test industrial hemp to ensure it’s not marijuana, process license requests, coordinate commission meetings and provide financial accounting for the commission.
The plant is still classified the same as marijuana by the federal government and producing hemp in Kentucky would require either a change in that classification or a federal waiver. Kentucky’s two senators, Yarmuth, D-3rd District, and U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie, R-4th District, support changing the classification.
Paul and Yarmuth have promised to work to get a waiver for Kentucky that would allow hemp production to begin when the framework set out by the new law is in place.
Massie has filed a bill that would nullify the federal prohibition of hemp in states that have laws allowing it.
The measure was one of the most contentious of the 2013 legislative session, with Senate Republicans giving strong support in the early days but House Democrats blocking passage until the General Assembly’s final hours.
Democrats argued that the bill wasn’t necessary because an earlier law tied Kentucky’s hemp policy to whatever federal law is at that time.
But the bill, which Comer shepherded through the legislature, passed after a last-minute compromise.

1 comment:

Carlos said...

The petition now has someone from each state! Lots of course from Kentucky. And they are all demanding the White House and the rest of the body politic get real.
Check it out at