Journal-Times (Grayson, KY)

Update

March 22, 2013

Could hemp bill be on way back?

March 22, 2013 — Version:1.0 StartHTML:0000000167 EndHTML:0000006191 StartFragment:0000000457 EndFragment:0000006175

To listen to members of Kentucky’s revived Hemp Commission Thursday, a compromise on a bill to regulate cultivation of industrial hemp is just around the corner.

That’s not all. It sounded as if hemp can solve many of Kentucky’s problems, adding jobs, producing clean energy, and making Kentucky a leader in something other than basketball, whiskey and horses.

Sen. Paul Hornback, R-Shelbyville, is sponsor of Senate Bill 50 which would establish a “regulatory framework” within the Department of Agriculture for the licensing and cultivation of hemp if the federal government lifts its ban on the biological relative of marijuana.

The idea is pushed by Republican Commissioner of Agriculture James Comer and supported by U.S. Senators Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell and U.S. Congressmen Thomas Massie, R-Vanceburg, and John Yarmuth, D-Louisville.

The bill passed the Republican-controlled Senate easily but is stalled in the Rules Committee in the Democratic-controlled House where Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, has questioned the market for the crop and the need for new legislation to replace a bill passed in 2001.

Stumbo has also said any bill which receives his backing must first overcome concerns by law enforcement officials, especially the Kentucky State Police, that legalizing the crop will make marijuana eradication and enforcement more difficult and expensive.

Minutes before the House recessed for 10 days last week, majority floor leader Rocky Adkins, D-Sandy Hook, said he will offer an amendment to call for a five-year study of hemp, make the KSP commissioner a co-chairman of the Hemp Commission; move the commission under the Center for Applied Energy Research at the University of Kentucky and offer tax credits for those who grow or process the plant.

Comer has said that amendment isn’t acceptable.

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