Monday, June 24, 2013

James Comer fights on in Kentucky

 A piece by Lindsay Yates on WBKO of Kentucky gives us the latest on that state, which is in the forefront of hemp legislation:

The crop once flourished in Kentucky until it was banned decades ago when the federal government classified it as a controlled substance related to marijuana.
Despite numerous failed attempts to legalize industrial hemp in Kentucky, Commissioner of Agriculture James Comer vows to continue his campaign.
Comer spoke about his efforts to re-establish industrial hemp as a legal crop.
"Industrial hemp is an agricultural crop just like corn and soybeans. It should be legal, and the United States should have legalized it a decade ago," says Comer.
Over 30 countries produce industrial hemp and hemp products can be legally sold in the United States but the hemp must be imported from other countries. Comer believes the crop could be an economic boon for Kentucky.
"If we can have more food processors and more company's that manufacture agricultural products like industrial hemp in small towns that will help create jobs in those small towns and make them more self sustainable."
He adds it could lead to manufacturing jobs that produce products ranging from paper to cosmetics.
"Toyota uses a hemp like fiber in the manufacturing in the interior parts for their vehicles here in Kentucky, that hemp like fiber comes from Indonesia, that should be coming from Kentucky farmers."
The bill is largely unpopular with law enforcement, who says hemp could be used to camouflage marijuana, which has similar looking leaves but far less potency.
"Marijuana and hemp is like broccoli and cauliflower. They're in the same plant family but they're very different plants. They don't look that much alike and they don't taste the same. They're different plants. I am against marijuana. I am not for legalizing marijuana," says Comer.
He says some were skeptical on his recent trip to Washington but he remains optimistic, and will continue educating others about the crop and it's benefits.
"We've come along way in a short period of time and I think industrial hemp will be a reality in the very near future and hopefully Kentucky can be the leading state in that," says Comer.
In the Farm Bill there was an amendment to allow for the production of industrial hemp that was recently passed, although the entire Farm Bill failed Comer says they will start over and re-introduce the bill in the future.
Even though it may still be more than a year away we asked the commissioner if he had any plans to run in the 2015 Gubernatorial Race in Kentucky.
While he didn't give us a yes or no answer he didn't rule out the possibility, and says it's an honor to be considered a potential candidate.
"It's something that we're looking at but right now I'm focused on being AG Commissioner. I love being Commissioner of Agriculture. I love Kentucky. I was a state rep. for 11 years so I know a lot about the issues and challenges our state faces, but right now were focused on trying to grow our agriculture economy in Kentucky."
Comer adds he believes its a good year too early to be announcing any plans for the Gubernatorial Race by any candidate democrat or republican.

No comments: