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Legalizing Weed: Key Players in Kentucky's Legalization of Industrial Hemp Farming

By    |   Saturday, 23 Jan 2016 01:00 AM

Like many other states, in recent years Kentucky has begun working toward legalizing hemp production for industrial purposes. Cultivation of the plant was long outlawed at the federal level, because it's related to the drug marijuana. However, as Kentucky radio station WFPL noted, hemp had been one of the state's primary exports.

Because it's used to manufacture so many things – including food, fabric, and building materials – many states have begun legalizing hemp production so they don't have to import it from countries. Kentucky is one of those states, with the following people playing a role in changing the state's stance toward the plant.

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1. Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer
In a press conference in 2015, James Comer announced that the state was allowing 121 people and organizations to begin industrial farming of hemp. He noted that the state had 34 licensed processors, with the Lexington Herald-Leader quoting him as saying "With their investment, jobs have been created, jobs are going to be created, and they've signed contracts with family farmers. Hemp equals jobs and true economic growth, which is what we predicted when we launched Senate Bill 50 two years ago." WFPL pointed out that Comer supported Senate Bill 50, the 2013 law that allowed hemp farming.

2. Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear
In 2013, Gov. Steve Beshear declined to sign SB 50, but said it wasn't because he opposed industrial hemp farming. As quoted by the Lexington Herald-Leader, Beshear said: "I strongly support efforts to create additional legal cash crops for our farm communities. At the same time, we have a tremendous drug problem in Kentucky, and I want to make sure that we don't do anything that will increase that drug problem. I still share the same concerns our law enforcement officers have about the impact hemp cultivation may have on our drug eradication efforts." By not signing, Beshear wasn't preventing the bill from becoming law, however. In fact, he said he would allow it to become law without his signature.

3. Kentucky Lawmakers
As WFPL noted, several lawmakers from Kentucky supported easing the federal ban on hemp production. This included Rep. Thomas Massie, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Sen. Rand Paul, all of whom serve at the national level. The federal government lifted this ban with the 2014 Farm Bill that allowed hemp farming for industrial and research purposes.

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Like many other states, in recent years Kentucky has begun working toward legalizing hemp production for industrial purposes. Cultivation of the plant was long outlawed at the federal level, because it's related to the drug marijuana.
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2016-00-23
Saturday, 23 Jan 2016 01:00 AM
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