Tag Archives: james comer

Kentucky Farmers Ready for Growth of Hemp Industry

By Janet Patton | November 4, 2015

Tucked away off a narrow country road in Clark County, Kentucky, in the middle of a farm, 27 acres of hemp grew all summer. Now, the plants will be harvested and processed.

Kentucky, hailed as a leader by industrial hemp advocates, has grown the hemp. Now the state is working on growing the industry.

“In two years, we’ve come a long way,” said Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, who is now running for Congress. “We’ve proven first of all that it’s not a drug, which was very important for the opposition to realize. And we’ve proven it’s economically viable, or there wouldn’t be 22 companies that have made an investment in the state. … What we’re doing now is working with the companies that want to go to the next step to commercialize the product. “

The plants in Winchester are part of the 100 acres of hemp – high in cannabidiol and low in tetrahydrocannabinol (the high-inducing chemical in marijuana) – grown this year for GenCanna, which moved from Canada to Kentucky to be in the heart of the hemp revolution. It deliberately chose to come to Kentucky over other states, including Colorado, because of the agricultural resources and the climate, both meteorological and political.

“We have been in this industry for many years, and we are setting a new bar in Kentucky,” GenCanna CEO Matty Mangone- Miranda said. “Kentucky’s kept the focus on industrial hemp” rather than cloud the issue with other forms of cannabis cultivation, as Colorado has permitted.

Mangone-Miranda, who estimates that hemp could become a billion-dollar industry, said his group is in hemp for the long run.

“The industry is likely to have a bubble, then stabilize with a market of diversified products,” he said, citing potential uses in sports drinks, nutritional products, supplements and more.

GenCanna has invested more than $5 million in Kentucky, according to company officials, although it has yet to see any revenue. That will come once the company is able to deliver a stable source of low-THC/high-CBD hemp.

“The only way to have hemp become an agricultural commodity is to grow lots of it and see what happens,” said Steve Bean, GenCanna’s chief operating officer.

Coming to Kentucky had other benefits, too. Many farmers were eager to get into the crop, which decades ago proliferated in the Bluegrass; hundreds applied to be part of pilot projects to grow hemp. The crop still can legally be grown only in affiliation with the state Department of Agriculture and entities that sign detailed memos of understanding.

Kentucky also has resources that in the past were used for tobacco that have converted well to hemp cultivation.

In fact, GenCanna’s headquarters is now in part of a former Philip Morris office building stuffed with former labs. The place was practically abandoned as the cigarette maker began retreating from Central Kentucky.

And next door is a processing center in a former tobacco seed plant, where GenCanna built a system to turn the chopped-up hemp plants into a sort of dried powder to sell as a nutritional supplement.

The Shell Farm and Greenhouses in Lancaster is turning its fields away from tobacco, growing 157,000 hemp plants on 40 acres outdoors and 3,500 plants in a greenhouse.

“And we’ll be growing it indoors all winter,” Giles Shell said. Shell’s greenhouses once raised flowers; now he’s working on hemp genetics.

“There’s no seed crop, so we have to take cuttings to get the plants in the field. So I’m selecting genetics, for a hardier plant – bigger, fuller,” Shell said. “We’ve got a problem with variegation or chimera, so I trying to select away from it.”

Next year, Shell intends to grow even more hemp.

“We’re going to quit raising our tobacco crop, and if we do any flowers, it will be downsized,” Shell said. “Last year, we raised 120 acres of tobacco. This year, we dropped to 80. Next year, we will drop to none. There’s not a market any more for tobacco and not enough money once you factor in labor and chemical costs.”

Both the offices and the processing center are shared with Atalo Holdings, another hemp entrepreneur company, this one formed by Andy Graves and other Kentuckians working on crushing hemp seed for oil and other fiber production. Graves also grew the 27 acres of hemp for GenCanna.

Other groups, including the Stanley Brothers of Charlotte’s Web CBD oil fame, also are pursuing the hemp’s potential.

Kentucky could be on the cusp of a green revolution – a hemp boom that could go in myriad directions or spiral into a bubble of speculation.

“It could,” Comer acknowledged. But, assuming that sometime in the next two years, Congress makes it legal for anyone to grow hemp, he said Kentucky should be well-positioned, with a jump-start on the infrastructure.

“We get requests every day for companies that want to start processing hemp. I worry that some may not have the credibility of some of the others, and that’s why it’s taking longer to certify, to get more background info,” Comer said. “We’re not picking winners and losers, but those that have credibility. Our reputations are on the line here, too.”

GenCanna has more contracts with farmers than any other company at this point, Comer said. It’s the only one in the cannabidiol business with signed contracts with national chains to buy their hemp product, he said.

“GenCanna is the real deal,” he said. “And they’ve given me assurances everyone will be paid, and all the farmers are happy.”

The Shell family, which has a three-year contract with GenCanna, certainly is now.

“We were very leery – I was the most reserved in my family of starting to do this,” Giles Shell said. “But … I felt like we were the best route to help commercialize this crop. Demand is really high, and supply isn’t there. Basic economics will tell you that’s profit.

“We’ve got a year ahead of everybody else that’s going to get into the game.”

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AMERICAN GREEN, INC.

 

 

Image result for kentucky hemp

 

 

American Green Inc (OTCMKTS:ERBB) recently released that the first of five ZaZZZ machines currently slated for Kentucky made headlines at the state’s Industrial Hemp Pilot Program Update in Lexington. Agriculture Commissioner James Comer of the Kentucky Department of Agriculture invited American Green marketing partner Chris Smith of Green Remedy (http://www.greenremedy.com) to talk about the future of hemp in the Bluegrass State. Green Remedy, which is comprised of John Salsman, Mike Boone, Chad Wilson, as well as Chris Smith is currently located in Bardstown, KY. American Green Inc (OTCMKTS:ERBB) advanced 1.82% and ended at $0.00560. The total traded volume was 9.11 million shares and market capitalization arrived at $24.84 million. The stock has a 52-week high price of 0.04 and its 52-week low was recorded at $0.01, while during last trade its minimum price was $0.01 and it gained the highest price of $0.01.

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Film screening promotes Hemp History Week

By Whitney Leggett The Winchester Sun

 

 

Film screening promotes Hemp History Week Local store puts focus on commerical, industrial uses

 

Marijuana’s misunderstood cousin is making a comeback in Kentucky and on a local level.

In 2013, the Bluegrass State became the first to legalize hemp production. Riding on the support of U.S. Sens. Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul, along with Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, the legislation expanded a market for thousands of products produced using the crop.

One local business is joining the efforts of raising awareness and acceptance of the industrialization of hemp.

Full Circle Market is celebrating Hemp History Week through Saturday with special promotions and a movie screening at the Clark County Public Library.

The market, located at 240 Redwing Drive, sells vitamins, minerals, herbs, natural body care products, eco-friendly cleaning supplies and specialty food items. Among the merchandise sold at Full Circle are a variety of hemp products, owner Laura Sheehan said.

“We sell hemp products here at the store, and have sold hemp products since we opened (in 2001),” Sheehan said.

In its sixth year, Hemp History Week is a national campaign to educate and renew support for hemp farming in the U.S.

This year, Sheehan has taken the local campaign efforts to a new level.

“Full Circle Market has participated in Hemp History Week for the last three years,” she said. “This year as part of Hemp History Week they offered opportunities to show the movie ‘Bringing It Home’ to your community. I thought it would be a natural fit to educate people since now hemp can legally be grown in Kentucky. I thought it would be a good time to bring this movie to the community to show it so they can learn about the industrialization of hemp first-hand.”

According to the film’s website, “Bringing It Home,” filmmakers Linda Book and Blaire Johnson “animate hemp’s history and introduce us to business owners using industrial hemp for construction, textiles, nutrition and body care products in the U.S. and around the globe.”

Book and Johnson explore why hemp isn’t grown in the U.S. and expose some of the latest legislative efforts to legalize hemp production in the U.S.

The 52-minute documentary-style film will be shown for free at 7 p.m. Monday, June 8, at the Clark County Public Library, and Sheehan thinks the film will shed some much-needed light on the hemp industry.

“I think people will be interested to know that hemp is not marijuana,” she said. “Hemp is a viable crop that actually has negative carbon emissions. So it is a very green crop.”

Although hemp is a variety of cannabis and of the same variety of plant as marijuana, it has no drug value, according the Kentucky Department of Agriculture.

KDA reports hemp seed contains little to no measurable amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive ingredient in drug varieties of cannabis. THC levels for hemp are around 0.3 percent, while marijuana THC levels are 10 percent on average.

For Sheehan and most other hemp proponents, the potential financial benefits of industrialized hemp production cannot be ignored.

“We sell millions of dollars of hemp products in the U.S. from food to fiber and fuel,” she said. “But we are importing it from around 30 others countries around the world. At this point, we as Americans have an abundance of farmers and farmland. So why not be growing it ourselves? The laws prohibiting hemp are really outdated and I feel strongly if it’s something we can source locally, our store wants to do that. I think this movie teaches us that it’s time to grow (hemp) here in the U.S.”

Sheehan said she hopes Kentucky can become known for its hemp production.

“I think it’s really exciting for Kentucky to be the first state to get to grow it,” she said. “There are other states behind us that are starting to legalize hemp. But if we can one day be known as the hemp capital of the world, that would be great. I think the revenue that can be made from hemp will really help our state, and it’s wonderful timing that our state is the first to get this crop planted.”

Prior to the screening of the film, there will be informational booths and samples of hemp products available from 5 to 7 p.m. at the library. Representatives from Plowshares for Appalachia, Atalo Holdings and Kentucky Hemp Industries Association will be available to answer questions.

“I think farmers are interested, but they don’t know how to get started,” Sheehan said. “What’s the application process like? How much land do I have to have? What do I do with my plant once I harvest it? There will be people there to help answer all these questions.”

Full Circle sells body care products made with hemp oil as the moisturizing base, as well as several hemp food products.

Visitors to the store can find chocolate covered hemp hearts (seeds), hemp protein powder, granola bars with hemp, hemp milk, hemp lotion, hemp soap (bar and liquid) and even a hemp shaving cream. Hemp twine, which is popular among local gardeners, is also available, Sheehan said.

Hemp is high in Omega 3, and is a good source of protein and fiber, she said.

As part of her Hemp History Week celebration, Sheehan will offer samples, special promotions and prize giveaways.

For more information about Hemp History Week, visit hemphistoryweek.com.

For questions about Full Circle Market products, Hemp History Week promotions or the movie screening, call Sheehan at 744-3008.

Contact Whitney Leggett at wleggett@winchestersun.com or follow her on Twitter @whitneyleggett.

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Hemp History Week coming up Events taking place from June 1st -7th, 2015

By Diego Flammini, Farms.com

In an effort to raise awareness about hemp and its place as a sustainable, versatile and profitable agricultural product, the Hemp Industries Association (HIA) and Vote Hemp are putting together the 6th annual Hemp History Week, set to take place from June 1st – 7th, 2015.

The weeklong celebration, whose theme is “Sow the Seed” will highlight the many different industries that can benefit from hemp crops including manufacturing and cooking.

It will also highlight the spring planting and progress in the states that already allow large-scale hemp farms.

One of, and perhaps the main issue affecting hemp’s place as an agricultural commodity is that it’s closely associated with marijuana.

Here are some things that set hemp apart from marijuana:

  • While both marijuana and hemp are classified as the Cannabis sativa, hemp is taller and has less than 0.3% of THC, the chemical responsible for the effects of marijuana.
  • When hemp is grown and harvested on a large scale and used for things like oil, wax, soap, rope and paper, it can be classified as agricultural or industrial hemp.

Hemp rope

According to the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, retail sales of all hemp-based products in the United States could be worth approximately $300 million per year.

In 1938, Popular Mechanics deemed hemp the new billion-dollar crop.

Currently there are 13 states in the US that allow for commercial hemp farming: California, Colorado, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia and West Virginia.

Tell us your thoughts about Hemp History Week and the events taking place. If you’re a hemp farmer, what are some of the myths that need to be dispelled surrounding hemp?

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Waiting for American Green Inc (OTCMKTS:ERBB) 0

By Justin Kinney on May 20, 2015 Media & Technology, Micro Cap Insider

American Green Inc (OTCMKTS:ERBB) continues to drop farther below $0.01 after eclipsing that support level. The stock does still have a loyal shareholder base that are waiting for a reversal.

On May 5 ERBB said the first of five ZaZZZ machines currently slated for Kentucky made headlines at the state’s Industrial Hemp Pilot Program Update in Lexington.

Agriculture Commissioner James Comer of the Kentucky Department of Agriculture invited American Green marketing partner Chris Smith of Green Remedy to talk about the future of hemp in the Bluegrass State. Green Remedy, which is comprised of John Salsman, Mike Boone, Chad Wilson, as well as Chris Smith is currently located in Bardstown, KY. They ordered five ZaZZZ machines in February 2015, the first of which was delivered, wrapped and shown off to the public today.

American Green Inc (OTCMKTS:ERBB) ZaZZZ vending machine is a unique automated vending solution designed specifically around American Green’s licensed proprietary patented technology. The machine is designed to make age-verified vending of cannabis products a reality, by providing a layer of authorization using the same systems as pharmacies for purchase regulation. It is designed to facilitate fully unattended purchases inside a dispensary or other regulated cannabis establishment.

The Company launched the ZaZZZ earlier this year in Colorado at a medical marijuana dispensary called Herbal Elements in Eagle Veil. Several days ago AG announced that zazzznetwork.com was online and displaying the first locations to have the age-verifying ZaZZZ product fulfillment machines fully online.

Currently the zazzznetwork.com shows ZaZZZ vending machine installed at Hempful Farms, Inc., in Phoenix, Arizona, AG HQ in Tempe, Arizona, Nature’s Kiss in EngleWood, Colorado, Kind Therapeutics in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Rocky Mountain Miracles in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Natural Herbal Pain Relief in San Jose, California, Pacific Coast in Seattle, Washington, Seattle Caregivers in Seattle, Washington and The Peoples ChampZ in Seattle, Washington.

Carl Kaiser, VP of the Verified Vending division said “As our ZaZZZ machine network expands to more locations, we plan to never stop incorporating new features and improvements. Catering to the early adopters, we left the product selection mostly to their discretion. As we progress, we’ll eventually direct the product selection so ZaZZZ Machines arrive with the images loaded and the inventory available and accounted for. Thus, the sixteen square feet in some random corner of the seller’s facility that currently is occupied by an unused chair and a poster on the wall instantly transforms into revenue-generating floor space for the business.”

 

ERBB is the brainchild of CEO Stephan Shearin who also serves as ERBB COO. Mr. Shearin has over 15 years of Internet business experience and over 20 years of start-up experience. He graduated from Arizona State University with a Degree in sociology and previously owned an underwater video business on St Thomas and an online bank.

On March 31 ERBB announced a Collaboration Agreement with Endexx to jointly develop the “Access Control Identification & Verification Vending Platform” aka “ACIDVP.” Each company designs and markets systems to address the issues related to the automated dispensing and inventory control of products requiring eligibility verification in compliance with applicable laws for the Marijuana Industry.

Together, they will co-develop and license an Integration and Connectivity Interface Platform to foster required industry standardization. The on-going collaboration also enables the companies to share business relationships leading directly to mutual revenue potential for both organizations.

The scope of the collaboration comprises the establishment of a unified compliance standard for inventory control and verified vending for general adoption by regulators and local jurisdictions in multiple legal markets.

The agreement also calls for collaboration on technology connectivity with the integration of American Green’s “Verify Pay” POS (Point of Sale) system with Endexx’s proprietary M3Hub inventory control, tracking, and process management system and for the joint development, marketing, distribution and licensing of the M3Hub universal interface connectivity platform for all third party “Seed-to-Sale,” POS systems and vending solutions.

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Hemp pilot projects finding fertile ground in Kentucky

Posted on March 26, 2015
by Dan Dickson

 

Image result for hemp fields in kentucky

 

 

Cynthiana farmer Brian Furnish has a successful tobacco and cattle operation but wants to make life better for his family and many other Kentucky farmers who once depended on tobacco for their living.

“I’ve seen what’s happened with the decline of tobacco,” said Furnish. “Central and eastern Kentucky need a new crop. If we can build an industry around hemp here, it’ll be beneficial to growers.”

Furnish is also the chair of the Kentucky Hemp Industry Council, a 16-member group from around the state and nation that represents various stakeholder in hemp’s future, from farmers and crop processors to industries and retailers that want to process and sell hemp products. Hemp’s fiber and oil can be used in a multitude of goods, including food, paper, building materials, beauty products and much more.

Kentucky is entering its second year of industrial hemp pilot projects. The first round in 2014 produced a wealth of data about production methods, seed varieties, harvesting, processing techniques and uses for harvested hemp.

“We’re looking to conduct a wide scope of pilot projects in 2015,” said Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, a strong advocate for hemp and a Republican candidate for governor.

“There are more agriculture processors in Kentucky today making an investment in the state, signing contracts and hiring people. This is something we’ll be able to look back at and say ‘This was a good decision,’” said Comer.

Comer says one company that showed an early interest in developing the state’s hemp industry is Dr. Bonner’s Magic Soaps, a company selling hemp formulated soaps, organic bars, lip balm and body care products, according to its website. The company donated $50,000 to aid the hemp council’s work in promoting a future for hemp in Kentucky.

Comer says hundreds of others have applied for permits to participate in this year’s hemp pilot program. “There’s no shortage of farmers who want to grow hemp,” he said.

Lexington attorney Jonathan Miller is legal advisor for the hemp council.

“We would like to resume our leading role as the industrial hemp capital of the globe,” he said.

Miller and others have lobbied Congress and President Barack Obama’s administration to try to regain full legalization of hemp, which was banned 75 years ago, along with its intoxicating plant cousin, marijuana.

In the last year, no hemp has been commercialized in Kentucky. It remains in the experimental stage.

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Military Veteran Farmers to Plant Historic Industrial Hemp Crop in Kentucky

Military Veteran Farmers to Plant Historic Industrial Hemp Crop in Kentucky

MOUNT VERNON, KY — Vote Hemp, the national single-issue advocacy group dedicated to re-commercializing industrial hemp, and Kentucky non-profit Growing Warriors, have partnered to organize a planting of industrial hemp in Mount Vernon, KY on May 16, 2014, as part of the nationwide grassroots education effort Hemp History Week .

The certified industrial hemp seed provided by the Kentucky Department of Agriculture will be grown as part of a research and development program in conjunction with the Kentucky State University, and marks an historic moment in the Bluegrass State after decades of federal prohibition of industrial hemp.

Grown for its versatile fiber and oilseed, which can be used to make rope, paper, building materials, bio-fuels, cosmetics, healthy food, body care products, textiles, plastic composites, and much more, hemp was once a paramount crop of Kentucky cultivated in the state as recently as the 1950′s, but was permanently banned in 1970 as a Schedule 1 drug under the Controlled Substances Act.

The return of hemp to Kentucky’s farmland and mills is lauded by many political, agriculture and industry leaders in the state and beyond who view the burgeoning industrial hemp market as a step toward job growth and sustained economic stability in the Commonwealth.

The hemp will be sown by war veterans who have partnered with Growing Warriors to learn agriculture and farming skills and work toward creating local community food systems.

“The farming and production of industrial hemp in America just makes sense,” says Mike Lewis, Executive Director of Growing Warriors. “The important thing to note is that a hemp industry must be built from the ground up, and if done properly and responsibly it will restore some vibrancy to our communities. Fighting alongside my fellow Veterans for this crop has already made me a wealthier man as I witnessed the grit and determination that built this country play out daily and now I will be afforded the opportunity to plant this historic crop with true patriots.”

“We took on this fight at the state legislature a year ago, and who would have ever dreamed we would change Kentucky law—change federal law—and have hemp in the ground today?” Agriculture Commissioner James Comer said. “This is an historic moment for Kentucky farmers, and my hope is that industrial hemp can again be a thriving industry that presents new opportunities in agriculture and manufacturing for years to come.”

“Kentucky is leading the country toward a revitalized, lucrative and sustainable hemp industry,” says Eric Steenstra, President of Vote Hemp. “Kentucky farmers, legislators and manufacturers have joined together to bring back hemp farming to the Kentucky landscape, knowing that hemp will bring job creation, among many other economic and environmental benefits.”

To date, thirty-three states have introduced pro-hemp legislation and twenty-two have passed pro-hemp legislation. Fourteen states (California, Colorado, Hawaii, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oregon, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia) have defined industrial hemp as distinct and removed barriers to its production.

However, despite state authorization to grow hemp, farmers in those states risk raids by federal agents if they plant the crop outside the parameters of Section 7606 of the recent Farm Bill, due to failure of federal policy to distinguish oilseed and fiber varieties of Cannabis (i.e. industrial hemp) from psychoactive varieties (i.e. marihuana.)

In 2013, both the federal Senate and House introduced versions of the Industrial Hemp Farming Act, S. 359 and H.R. 525 respectively. So far in the 2014 legislative session, industrial hemp legislation has been introduced or carried over in Puerto Rico and twenty-five states: Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois (carried over from 2013), Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire (carried over from 2013), New Jersey (carried over from 2013), New York, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Washington (two bills were carried over from 2013), West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Farm Bill , Growing Warriors , hemp , hemp cultivation , hemp farming , industrial hemp , Industrial Hemp Farming Act , James Comer , Kentucky , Kentucky Department of Agriculture , Kentucky hemp , Kentucky State University , US HR 525 , US SB 359 , Vote Hemp

Vote Hemp

by Vote Hemp

Vote Hemp is a national, single-issue, non-profit organization dedicated to the acceptance of and a free market for low-THC industrial hemp and to changes in current law to allow U.S. farmers to once again grow this agricultural crop.

Kentucky Ag Commissioner Gives Farmers Green Light To Grow Hemp

 

Agriculture Commissioner James Comer says he hopes Kentucky farmers plant hemp in April.

Reported by: Aaron Adelson

Email: aadelson@wtvq.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AAdelsonABC36

 

Agriculture Commissioner James Comer says he hopes Kentucky farmers plant hemp in April.

 
"We used to grow tobacco on the farm and now basically we just have cattle and grow hay, and it just

seems like a good alternative crop," said Steven Albert, a farmer from Green County. 

Albert came to a Hemp Commission meeting to learn more. 

The state legalized industrialized hemp if federal law would allow it.

Well, the U.S. Department of Justice announced it would not prosecute the two states that legalized marijuana.  Furthermore,

Comer says the man who wrote the memo testified the government would not prosecute hemp farmers.

Comer says this gives Kentucky the green light.

"This is a very exciting first step, and we’ll just have to see.

History will decide whether this was a defining moment in Kentucky agriculture, or not," said Comer.

He and Senator Rand Paul plan to send the DOJ a letter announcing the state’s intent to move forward.
"I can’t imagine why they would be opposed to it," said Comer.
Things are moving quickly, but farmers like Albert need to learn how to grow hemp.

"Farmers in Green County know how to grow tobacco, tomatoes, anything you can think of,

but when I ask them how do you grow hemp?  How do you harvest hemp?  Most of them say they don’t know," said Albert.

The state needs to work out some regulatory issues before anybody puts seeds in the ground.

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U.S. congressmen, former CIA director to testify in support of Kentucky hemp bill

Staff report

hemp

Industrial hemp is a fiber and oil seed crop

with a wide variety of uses. Hemp fibers

have been used to manufacture hundreds

of products that include twine, paper,

construction materials, carpeting and clothing.

 

FRANKFORT, Ky. — U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, U.S. Reps. John Yarmuth and Thomas Massie, former Director of Central Intelligence R. James Woolsey (of the Clinton Administration), and Commissioner of Agriculture James Comer will testify next week in support of an industrialized hemp bill.

Industrial hemp is a fiber and oil seed crop with a wide variety of uses. Hemp fibers have been used to manufacture hundreds of products that include twine, paper, construction materials, carpeting and clothing.

The Senate Agriculture Committee will hear the testimony Monday, Feb. 11 at 11 a.m. in Room 131 of the Capitol Annex in Frankfort. Senate Bill 50, sponsored by Sen. Paul Hornback, R-Shelbyville, establishes a framework to re-introduce industrial hemp into Kentucky’s agri-economy if and when the federal government acts to legalize it.

Immediately following the vote on SB 50, the group will move to Room 154 of the Capitol Annex to take questions from the media.

The bill has support from several groups and legislators. Its biggest critics are Operation UNITE, the Kentucky Narcotic Officers’ Association and the Kentucky Association of Chiefs of Police.

Operation UNITE said industrial hemp production in Kentucky is not economically sound, that it would impose an unnecessary financial burden on the state and could facilitate future efforts to legalize its cousin – marijuana. Police groups also say the legalization and growth of hemp in Kentucky would impede law enforcement officers’ marijuana eradication efforts, because “the plants are indistinguishable to the eye,” said Tommy Loving, executive director of the Kentucky Narcotic Officers’ Association.

The Kentucky Industrialized Hemp Commission says Kentucky has the perfect climate and soil to produce industrial hemp, and the farmers to grow it. Comer believes the crop could be a great economic boon to Kentucky.

The group recently commissioned an economic impact study to be performed by the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture. It hopes such a study could have an impact on the discussion at the federal level to legalize industrial hemp.

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Kentucky agriculture commissioner brings pro-hemp message to Lexington

 

hemp-300x200

 

 

Published: January 3, 2013

By Beverly Fortune — bfortune@herald-leader.com

Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer brought his pro-hemp message to the Lexington Forum on Thursday.

Since taking office in 2011, Comer has held town meetings in all 120 Kentucky counties, inviting local legislators to attend, to promote industrial hemp. In the early 19th century, Kentucky was the nation’s leading hemp producer.

Comer is backing a bill in the General Assembly that would permit industrial hemp to again be cultivated.

Hemp would produce income for farmers and create manufacturing jobs for products using hemp, he said.

Farmers growing hemp would have to be licensed by the state and their fields inspected regularly, Comer said.

The Department of Agriculture, the state’s largest regulatory agency, would oversee cultivation and sales of the crop.

Hemp is a sustainable, annual crop that "is easy and cheap to grow," he said. "It grows well in this climate and requires very little fertilizer or insecticides." The plant grows best in marginal soils found in many Central and Eastern Kentucky counties.

For people, including law enforcement officers, who are concerned that marijuana might be grown in hemp fields and the hemp and marijuana plants confused, Comer said the two look completely different.

Marijuana is a short, bushy plant with lots of leaves; industrial hemp is tall, with a thick stalk and few leaves.

When grown near each other, hemp and marijuana cross-pollinate, and the hemp destroys buds on the marijuana plants, he said. "Industrial hemp is an enemy of marijuana," Comer said. "Law enforcement should be for industrial hemp."

The long-dormant Industrial Hemp Commission, revived under Comer, has contracted with the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture to conduct an economic-impact study.

For the crop to be grown successfully, there has to be a market for the fibers, Comer said. "Many products we make from plastic, like car dashboards, armrests, carpet and fabrics, are made from hemp in other countries. Hemp is also used to make paper."

Comer said one major benefit of growing hemp would be the manufacturing jobs created to produce items using hemp fibers, seed and oil.

"The United States is the only industrial country in the world that doesn’t allow industrial hemp to be grown, yet many products Americans buy have hemp as an ingredient," he said. Hemp is legally grown in Canada and China, and throughout Europe.

If the General Assembly approves growing industrial hemp, the federal government would have to lift restrictions before it could be grown. "I want us to be ready when the federal government gives the go-ahead. I’m convinced they’re going to do that," Comer said.

Beverly Fortune: (859) 231-3251. Twitter: @BFortune2010.

Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/2013/01/03/2463466/state-agriculture-commissioner.html#storylink=cpy