FRANKFORT, Ky. December 30, 2013 — The Kentucky Industrial Hemp Commission today discussed productive and ongoing communications with both the U.S. attorney general and the Kentucky attorney general regarding the effort to make Kentucky a leader in industrial hemp production. Agriculture Commissioner James Comer met with state Attorney General Jack Conway on Dec. 17, and the latter offered to expedite a response from the U.S. Department of Justice that would clarify the law on industrial hemp production.
“The commission is pleased to hear that Commissioner Comer and Attorney General Conway have opened the lines of communication,” said Brian Furnish, chairman of the hemp commission. “It is the commission’s hope that Kentucky will remain a leader in this effort and that the federal government promptly and favorably clarifies the law so farmers, processors, and manufacturers can jump-start this exciting new industry.”
The commission also learned that U.S. Sen. Rand Paul recently placed a call to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to raise the issue of industrial hemp production. The call was portrayed as “positive,” and Holder was described as “receptive” to the senator’s call.
“Now that both chief law enforcement officers at the state and federal levels are aware of the potential economic impact that this crop could have on Kentucky’s farm community and manufacturing base, we look forward to working with them toward a responsible state hemp production program in 2014,” Furnish said.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has yet to respond to two letters seeking clarification on federal law: a September letter from Luke Morgan, an attorney on behalf of the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, and a November letter from Comer, Paul, Furnish, and U.S. Reps. John Yarmuth and Thomas Massie. The letters ask the agency to clarify that hemp production and processing can move forward in states such as Kentucky that have legalized hemp and enacted a framework for licensing and regulating hemp production.
The commission discussed ongoing communication with Kentucky’s federal delegation regarding efforts to carve out an exception for hemp from the federal controlled substances act in the Farm Bill, which is currently in conference committee.