Hemp foods company CEO to testify
FRANKFORT, Ky. (Feb. 26, 2013) — Legislation that sets up an administrative framework for industrial hemp production moves Wednesday to the House Agriculture and Small Business Committee.
Sponsored by Sen. Paul Hornback, R-Shelbyville and supported by Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, Senate Bill 50 is expected to be heard beginning at 8 a.m. in Room 129 at the Capitol Annex.
On Tuesday, Comer announced that John Roulac, the founder and CEO of Nutiva, the fastest-growing hemp foods company in the country, is scheduled to fly in to testify in support of SB 50. Nutiva did $44 million in sales last year alone, and Roulac is expected to testify on the economic opportunities hemp presents, according to Comer’s office.
“… We will offer overwhelming evidence that industrial hemp presents opportunities for our farmers and potential new industries for Kentucky,” Comer said. “John Roulac has seen enormous success in the hemp business, and I hope this private-sector achievement will speak loudly to House Ag Committee members still on the fence.”
Comer is expected to testify again, this time alongside Hornback and Democrat Sen. Robin Webb. Michael Lewis, a small-scale farmer and military veteran who is a spokesman for the Jobs for Vets and Homegrown by Heroes programs, also will be on hand to offer testimony in support of the bill.
House Ag Committee Chairman Tom McKee has said he plans to offer a committee substitute that would convert SB 50 into a university study. Hornback and Comer have voiced opposition to any committee substitute that does not advance private-sector involvement in the hemp industry.
Gov. Steve Beshear said law enforcement concerns about the industrial hemp legislation should be addressed before the state approves a measure to allow farmers here to grow it if the federal government lifts restrictions.
Operation UNITE (Unlawful Narcotics Investigations, Treatment and Education), Kentucky Narcotic Officers’ Association, Kentucky Association of Chiefs of Police and other police organizations have expressed opposition to Senate Bill 50, which passed the Senate 31-6.
They say industrial hemp production in Kentucky is not economically sound, would impose an unnecessary financial burden on the state, and could facilitate future efforts to legalize its cousin – marijuana. The production of hemp also could impede law enforcement’s marijuana eradication efforts, the law enforcement agencies said.
House Speaker Greg Stumbo also has about legalizing the production of a plant with leaves nearly identical to marijuana.