LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) – There has been an apparent breakthrough in the battle over industrial hemp seeds seized by customs agents in Louisville.
Late Tuesday afternoon, the Drug Enforcement Administration has decided to back down and release the seeds for a hemp pilot project.
Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer planned to take the DEA to federal court Wednesday to force it to follow a new federal law.
According to Comer, the DEA wanted to attach various conditions before it would even consider handing over the industrial hemp seeds.
Now the two sides have agreed on one condition.
“The first phone call – it was just an utter disregard for federal legislation, the Farm Bill,” Comer said.
By the last phone call between the DEA and the Kentucky Agriculture Department on Tuesday, the two sides appear to have reached an agreement that by the end f the week it will release to agriculture officials a 250-pound shipment of hemp seeds being held by customs agents.
“There’s only a small window of opportunity to plant these seeds,” Comer said. “They really should be in the ground today but we probably have until May 30 to plant the seeds.”
An agriculture department official says the DEA will only require the Agriculture Department to apply for an import permit, a process the DEA pledges to expedite so that the seeds can be released by the end of the week.
“The farm bull clearly states that we have the authority in Kentucky because we passed state regulatory framework, to be able to conduct pilot projects with research universities like the University of Kentucky,” Comer said.
It appears to be a better resolution than in 1996, when actor Woody Harrelson was arrested in rural Kentucky for ceremoniously planting four hemp seeds.
This Friday, Comer plans to join hemp supporters in rural Kentucky again to plant hemp seeds to usher in the rebirth of a cash crop outlawed here since 1937 because it looked similar to marijuana.