Local News

The Kentucky Industrial Hemp Commission threw its support Monday behind a senate bill that would, among other things, establish a licensing procedure for growers of industrial hemp should the federal government allow for it.

This comes as the director of the Kentucky Narcotics Officers’ Association argued against steps toward legalizing industrial hemp, citing concerns that hemp would overwhelm state drug-testing labs.

Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer — who also chairs the industrial hemp commission — responded against similar criticism from Operation Unite, a non-profit group that “works to rid communities of illegal drug use.” An Operation United news release on Monday included criticism of the hemp efforts from several Kentucky law enforcement members, among them the narcotics officers association director. The news release said:

Industrial hemp production in Kentucky is not economically sound, would impose an unnecessary financial burden on the state, and could facilitate future efforts to legalize its cousin – marijuana, according to law enforcement officials across the commonwealth.

Comer took issue with Operation Unite’s criticism of hemp’s economic soundness.

“Everyone knows that industrial hemp is marijuana’s worst nightmare because it kills the toxicity in the marijuana plant,” Comer said in the news release.  “So it is very troubling to me when I hear reports that marijuana growers and certain members of law enforcement are on the same side. The arguments from our opposition are shallow, misleading, and downright wrong.  I believe the best way to get people off drugs is to put them back to work.”

State Sen. Paul Hornback, a Republican from Shelbyville, is the sponsor of Senate Bill 50 and chairman of the senate agriculture committee. He told the Associated Press that he intends to call for a vote on the bill in the agriculture committee.

The hemp group also commissioned an economic impact study to be performed by the University of Kentucky’s College of Agriculture.