Supporters say it will give Kentucky a market edge if federal gov’t lifts restrictions
FRANKFORT, Ky. (March 27, 2013) — As supporters thundered their approval, the Kentucky House of Representatives on Tuesday passed Senate Bill 50, Sen. Paul Hornback’s legislation that creates an administrative framework for industrial hemp production in Kentucky.
Hornback and Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, a staunch supporter of Senate Bill 50, looked on as the House passed the bill by an 88-4 margin in the waning hours of the legislative session. The Senate concurred in a House floor amendment, 35-1, sending the bill to the governor’s desk.
“This historic legislation puts Kentucky in position to be first in line if and when the federal government legalizes production of industrial hemp,” Comer said. “By passing this bill, the General Assembly has signaled that Kentucky is serious about restoring industrial hemp production to the Commonwealth and doing it in the right way. That will give Kentucky’s congressional delegation more leverage when they seek a federal waiver allowing Kentucky farmers to grow hemp.”
The House floor amendment, ironed out by Hornback and House Democratic leadership on Tuesday, keeps the Kentucky Industrial Hemp Commission administratively attached to the Kentucky Department of Agriculture and calls for hemp demonstration projects by the University of Kentucky and other public universities that choose to participate. The legislation limits involvement of the Kentucky State Police to conducting background checks on applicants for licenses to grow industrial hemp. Comer, the hemp commission’s current chairman, will step down to vice chair, and the commission will elect a new chairman.
“Sometimes, the legislative process isn’t pretty, but we got it done,” Hornback said. “I’m glad I could play a role in getting legislation passed that has the potential to help Kentucky’s farmers and bring thousands of jobs to the state.”
“I’m confident Washington will loosen restrictions on hemp production sooner rather than later, and when it does, Kentucky will be ready,” said Jonathan Miller, a Democrat, former state treasurer, and a member of the hemp commission.
Supporters of the measure say the crop would give Kentucky a market edge if the hemp production is legalized federally.
Industrial hemp can be used in the production of ropes, fabrics, plastics and a variety of other goods.