FRANKFORT, Ky. — U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, U.S. Reps. John Yarmuth and Thomas Massie, former Director of Central Intelligence R. James Woolsey (of the Clinton Administration), and Commissioner of Agriculture James Comer will testify next week in support of an industrialized hemp bill.
The Senate Agriculture Committee will hear the testimony Monday, Feb. 11 at 11 a.m. in Room 131 of the Capitol Annex in Frankfort. Senate Bill 50, sponsored by Sen. Paul Hornback, R-Shelbyville, establishes a framework to re-introduce industrial hemp into Kentucky’s agri-economy if and when the federal government acts to legalize it.
Immediately following the vote on SB 50, the group will move to Room 154 of the Capitol Annex to take questions from the media.
The bill has support from several groups and legislators. Its biggest critics are Operation UNITE, the Kentucky Narcotic Officers’ Association and the Kentucky Association of Chiefs of Police.
Operation UNITE said industrial hemp production in Kentucky is not economically sound, that it would impose an unnecessary financial burden on the state and could facilitate future efforts to legalize its cousin – marijuana. Police groups also say the legalization and growth of hemp in Kentucky would impede law enforcement officers’ marijuana eradication efforts, because “the plants are indistinguishable to the eye,” said Tommy Loving, executive director of the Kentucky Narcotic Officers’ Association.
The Kentucky Industrialized Hemp Commission says Kentucky has the perfect climate and soil to produce industrial hemp, and the farmers to grow it. Comer believes the crop could be a great economic boon to Kentucky.
The group recently commissioned an economic impact study to be performed by the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture. It hopes such a study could have an impact on the discussion at the federal level to legalize industrial hemp.