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Don't call it a 'Weed;' Momentum for hemp in Ky

by Joe Arnold

WHAS11.com

Posted on January 28, 2013 at 8:07 AM

Updated Monday, Jan 28 at 10:38 AM

FRANKFORT, Ky (WHAS11) -- Reinvigorated after a ten year dormancy, Kentucky's Industrial Hemp Commission meets Monday morning with an apparent new momentum.

The effort recently gained the endorsement of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce and bills that would legalize the crop are expected to be debated when the General Assembly's "short session" resumes in February. 

Sen. Paul Hornback (R-Shelbyville), a sponsor of one of the bills (SB50) and a statutory member of the commission, is scheduled to attend.

Spearheaded by Agriculture Commissioner James Comer (R), the effort seeks to restore hemp as a cash crop in Kentucky.  For generations, hemp was a staple of Kentucky agriculture.  Comer suggests the state can become a center of production of a number of products made with hemp, including  paper, clothing and food. 

Both U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) and U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Kentucky 3rd Cong. District) have pledged to help seek a federal waiver to allow Kentucky farmers to grow the cannibas plant which is currently disallowed because of hemp's relation to its cousin, marijuana.

A stumbling block, however, is the opposition of Kentucky State Police Commissioner Rodney Brewer who has stated concerns that law enforcement may have difficulty distinguishing between the similar plants.

The commission schedule includes discussion of outreach efforts, action on an economic study and a potential industrial hemp rally and press conference.

WHAS11 plans to attend the commission hearing.  Watch for updates Monday afternoon and evening.
 

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