Tue June 11, 2013
Beshear Asks Feds to Look Into Economic Benefits of Hemp
Gov. Steve Beshear is asking federal officials to look into whether industrial hemp could be grown in Kentucky without hindering drug eradication efforts.
Kentucky lawmakers passed a bill earlier this year that lays the groundwork for hemp farming if the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration were to lift restrictions on the crop.
Beshear allowed the bill to become law without his signature, saying he shared concerns raised by law enforcement about how industrial hemp could be used to hide an illegal marijuana crop.
But on Friday, Beshear sent a letter to President Obama, asking that federal agriculture and drug enforcement officials help identify economic opportunities that wouldn’t negatively impact eradication efforts. A spokesperson says the letter does not mean Beshear has changed his position on hemp; he just wants officials to explore the issue.
Kentucky’s congressional delegation and state Agriculture Commissioner James Comer have been pushing for federal action that would ease industrial hemp restrictions.
Hemp supporter say Kentucky would benefit economically from the crop, which could be used to make textiles and other products.