More executive overreach? Lawmakers say Obama hemp policy is a buzzkill for research

 

Kentucky is one of 28 states that permit the production of industrial hemp.

Kentucky is one of 28 states that permit the production of industrial hemp. Charles Bertram Lexington Herald-Leader

By Curtis Tate

ctate@mcclatchydc.com

 

You can’t get high from smoking hemp, but a bipartisan group of lawmakers says states and universities growing it for research could get busted if they cross state lines with it.

Three Kentucky lawmakers — Republican Sen. Rand Paul, Democratic Rep. John Yarmuth and Republican Rep. Thomas Massie — have asked the Obama administration to remove or revise August guidance that prohibits the shipment of hemp plants and seeds across state lines even for research.

Industrial hemp only contains a fraction of the intoxicating chemical associated with its cousin marijuana, and it is grown worldwide to produce fabrics, carpets, paper, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and even auto parts.

While federal law prohibits farmers from growing hemp for a profit, it can be grown in some states for research purposes.

 

We request that you please remove the attempted prohibition on transporting plants and seeds across state lines.

 

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, and 18 other lawmakers in letter Joining 16 of their colleagues in a letter dated Thursday, the Kentucky lawmakers told the Drug Enforcement Agency, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration that its guidance has sown seeds of confusion among state agriculture departments and universities that have hemp research programs.

Kentucky and 27 other states have authorized the production of industrial hemp. The 2014 Farm Bill enabled those states to establish pilot programs.

This year in Kentucky, 135 growers and 4,500 acres have been approved under the state’s pilot program. Kentucky had led the nation in hemp production until after the Civil War.

This year in Kentucky, 135 growers and 4,500 acres have been approved under the state’s pilot program.

The Farm Bill also says the Executive Branch may not use appropriated funds “to prohibit the transportation, processing, sale or use of industrial hemp” that is grown in accordance with the law.

The three agencies do not have the authority to issue the guidance they did in August, the lawmakers wrote.

“We request that you please remove the attempted prohibition on transporting plants and seeds across state lines,” they wrote.

 

Curtis Tate: 202-383-6018, @tatecurtis

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/national/article110887257.html#storylink=cpy

KY: Industrial Hemp Research Pilot Program now taking applications for 2017

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New measures set to enable sustained growth of the program

FRANKFORT (October 11, 2016) Kentuckians interested in participating in the industrial hemp research pilot program in 2017 are invited to submit an application with the Kentucky Department of Agriculture.

“The pilot research program will continue to build on the successes of the previous administration by developing research data on industrial hemp production, processing, manufacturing, and marketing for Kentucky growers,” Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles said. KDA’s objective is to expand and strengthen Kentucky’s research pilot program, so that if the federal government chooses to remove industrial hemp from the list of controlled substances, Kentucky’s growers and farmers will be positioned to thrive, prosper and ultimately prevail as national leaders in industrial hemp production.”

The KDA operates its program under the authority of a provision of the 2014 federal farm bill, 7 U.S.C. § 5940 that permits industrial hemp pilot programs in states where hemp production is permitted by state law. Participants planted more than 2,350 acres of hemp in 2016 compared with 922 acres in 2015 and 33 acres in 2014, the first year of the program.

Applicants should be aware of important new measures for the 2017 research program, including the following:

· To strengthen the department’s partnership with state and local law enforcement officers, KDA will provide GPS coordinates of approved industrial hemp planting sites to law enforcement agencies before any hemp is planted. GPS coordinates must be submitted on the application. Applicants must consent to allow program staff and law enforcement officers to inspect any premises where hemp or hemp products are being grown, handled, stored, or processed.

· To promote transparency and ensure a fair playing field, KDA will rely on objective criteria, outlined in the newly released 2017 Policy Guide, to evaluate applications. An applicant’s criminal background check must indicate no drug-related misdemeanor convictions, and no felony convictions of any kind, in the past 10 years. Staff with the KDA’s industrial hemp pilot project program will consider whether applicants have complied with instructions from the department, Kentucky State Police, and local law enforcement.

· As the research program continues to grow, KDA’s hemp staff needs additional resources and manpower to administer this tremendously popular program. The addition of participant fees will enable KDA Hemp Staff to handle an increasing workload without needing additional taxpayer dollars from the General Assembly. Program applicants will be required to submit a nonrefundable application fee of $50 with their applications. Successful applicants will be required to pay additional program fees.

Grower applications must be postmarked or received by the KDA marketing office no later than November 14, 2016 at 4:30 p.m. EST. Processor or handler applicants are encouraged to submit their applications by November 14, 2016 at 4:30 p.m. EST.

For more information, including the 2017 Policy Guide and a downloadable application, go to kyagr.com/hemp.

CONTINUE TO KENTUCKY DEPARTMENT OF AGRIGULTURE

Kentucky Should Not Wait For Federal Permission on Industrial Hemp

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There are right ways to fight the unconstitutional federal prohibition on industrial hemp. There are also wrong ways to do it. Unfortunately, Kentucky is doing it the wrong way. Rather than act without unnecessary federal “permission,” the agriculture commissioner is pleading with the feds to “reconsider” its rules for industrial hemp.

The feds recently put out a report called the Statement of Principles on Industrial Hemp which outlines how federal laws impact hemp production for research purposes. However, the Kentucky agriculture commissioner says it is not certain how the rules apply to hemp oil (CBD oil) production research, which makes up over half of the state’s hemp programs.

“There are some areas(of the report) that may be problematic, including the definition of what the actual definition of what industrial hemp is,” said Quarles. He added that he hopes “those in Washington realize that the entire plant should be researched.”

While industrial hemp and recreational marijuana are both prohibited under the Controlled Substance Act of 1970, they are different strains of the same plant. Industrial hemp has practically no trace of THC, the chemical in found in marijuana that makes it potent. While it is not illegal to grow industrial hemp, farmers must obtain a permit from the DEA, a virtually impossible feat. Up until a couple of years ago, the feds effectively maintained complete prohibition of industrial hemp production.

At one time, Kentucky ranked as the no. 1 hemp producing state in the country, and the commonwealth currently has a strong grassroots network of hemp advocates. But when the legislature took up the issue in 2013, it only authorized hemp production if and when the feds allowed it.

Early in 2014, President Barack Obama opened the door when he signed a new farm bill into law, which included a provision allowing a handful of states to begin limited research programs growing hemp. The “hemp amendment”

…allows State Agriculture Departments, colleges and universities to grow hemp, defined as the non-drug oil-seed and fiber varieties of Cannabis, for academic or agricultural research purposes, but it applies only to states where industrial hemp farming is already legal under state law.

With the federal government granting its limited permission, the state of Kentucky launched a hemp pilot program meeting the federal guidelines in 2014. Now, state agriculture officials find themselves in a position where they must beg the federal government to change its rules in order to even run its limited research program.

Meanwhile, other states including Colorado, Vermont, Oregon, South Carolina, Connecticut, Maine and North Dakota aren’t waiting around for permission. They have taken steps to ramp up industrial hemp production on their own, simply ignoring federal prohibition and legalizing industrial hemp within their state borders.

While prospective hemp growers still have to take federal law into consideration, by eliminating the state requirement for federal permission, state hemp legalization clears away a major obstacle to widespread commercial hemp farming within the borders of the state.

And it’s working. For instance, in Colorado the amount of acreage used to grow industrial hemp is poised to double this year.

The growing hemp industry in Colorado and other states acting independent of federal law shows that the fed’s ban does not work without state cooperation.

Kentucky should cease pleading for permission where none is required and takes steps to nullify the federal ban on industrial hemp by simply creating a framework allowing farmers to cultivate and process hemp for both commercial and research purposes.

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Two Approaches to Hemp Demonstrate Futility of Asking for Federal Permission