Kentucky hemp bill heads back to House

Sen. Paul Hornback (R-Shelbyville) explaining House Bill 236, a measure relating to hemp regulations.

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Legislation designed to help Kentucky’s fledgling hemp industry has passed the state Senate by a 37-0 vote.

Known as House Bill 236, the measure would conform Kentucky’s hemp laws to federal guidelines that changed after the passage of the 2018 U.S. Farm Bill. That bill removed hemp from the list of federally controlled substances, which allowed farmers across the nation to grow it legally.

“Make no mistake, this industry is a new industry,” said Sen. Paul Hornback (R-Shelbyville) who stood to explain HB 236 on the Senate floor yesterday. “It is in its infancy and it does have problems. Those are growing pains. We all recognize that.”

Hornback said hemp isn’t something farmers are going to “get rich quick” by growing, but he thinks it will ultimately become a sustainable crop for Kentucky’s agriculture industry. Hornback said Kentucky farmers grew more of it than they could sell last year. He said the same happened with milk, corn, soybeans, chicken and swine.

“We are the best at running ourselves out of business,” said Hornback, who is also a farmer.

Other provisions of HB 236 would expand the number of laboratories authorized to test the state’s hemp crop for tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a psychoactive component found in it and other types of cannabis. THC testing of the state’s crop is now handled by the University of Kentucky, which has experienced a testing backlog over the past year.

Hornback said HB 236 would also clarify that companies could transport hemp extract with higher concentrations of THC between processing facilities.