Tag Archives: kentucky

U.S. Senate Votes To Legalize Hemp After Decades-Long Ban Under Marijuana Prohibition

Tom Angell , Contributor

The non-psychoactive cannabis cousin of marijuana would finally become legal to grow in the United States under a bill overwhelmingly approved by the Senate.

The wide-ranging agriculture and food policy legislation known as the Farm Bill, passed by a vote of 86 – 11 on Thursday, contains provisions to legalize the cultivation, processing and sale of industrial hemp.

The move, championed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), would also make hemp plants eligible for crop insurance.

“Consumers across America buy hundreds of millions in retail products every year that contain hemp,” McConnell said in a floor speech on Thursday. “But due to outdated federal regulations that do not sufficiently distinguish this industrial crop from its illicit cousin, American farmers have been mostly unable to meet that demand themselves. It’s left consumers with little choice but to buy imported hemp products from foreign-produced hemp.”

McConnell also took to the Senate floor on Tuesday and Wednesday to tout the bill’s hemp legalization provisions in separate speeches.

In April, the GOP leader introduced standalone legislation to legalize hemp, the Hemp Farming Act, the provisions of which were included in the larger Farm Bill when it was unveiled earlier this month.

The Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry approved the bill by a vote of 20-1 two weeks ago.

During that committee markup, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), one of Congress’s most ardent opponents of marijuana law reform, threatened to pursue serious changes to the bill’s hemp provisions on the floor. Namely, he wanted to remove the legalization of derivatives of the cannabis plant, such as cannabidiol (CBD), which is used by many people for medical purposes. But Grassley never ended up filing a floor amendment, allowing hemp supporters to avoid a contentious debate and potentially devastating changes to the bill.

Hemp legalization enjoys broad bipartisan support.

“Legalizing hemp nationwide ends decades of bad policymaking and opens up untold economic opportunity for farmers in Oregon and across the country,” Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) said upon passage of the Farm Bill on Thursday. “Our bipartisan legislation will spur economic growth in rural communities by creating much-needed red, white and blue jobs that pay well. I’m proud to have worked with my colleagues to get the bipartisan Hemp Farming Act through the Senate. Today marks a long-overdue, huge step forward for American-grown hemp.”

BIG news for industrial hemp farming! Today, the Senate passed my bipartisan #HempFarmingAct, legislation that would lift a decades-old ban on growing industrial hemp on American soil. #RonReport pic.twitter.com/r0fBzseRIh

— Ron Wyden (@RonWyden) June 28, 2018

Earlier this month, the Senate approved a nonbinding resolution recognizing hemp’s “growing economic potential.”

“For the first time in 80 years, this bill legalizes hemp. We forget, but hemp was widely grown in the United States throughout the mid-1800s,” Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) said in a floor speech on Wednesday. “Americans used hemp in fabrics, wine, and paper. Our government treated industrial hemp like any other farm commodity until the early 20th century, when a 1937 law defined it as a narcotic drug, dramatically limiting its growth. This became even worse in 1970 when hemp became a schedule I controlled substance. In Colorado, as is true across the country–I have talked to a lot of colleagues about this–we see hemp as a great opportunity to diversify our farms and manufacture high-margin products for the American people.”

McConnell’s standalone hemp bill currently has 29 cosponsors signed on—17 Democrats, nine Republicans and two independents.

A Congressional Research Service report released last week says that the “global market for hemp consists of more than 25,000 products.”

House Republican leaders blocked a vote to make hemp legalization part of that chamber’s version of the Farm Bill. But now that the language is included in the version approved by the Senate, it will be part of discussions by the bicameral conference committee that will merge both chambers’ bills into a single piece of legislation to be send to President Trump’s desk. All indications are that McConnell, as the most powerful senator, will fight hard for the survival of his hemp proposal.

A White House statement of administration policy released this week outlining concerns with the Farm Bill does not mention its hemp legalization provisions.

In 2014, McConnell included provisions to allow limited state-authorized hemp research programs in that year’s version of the Farm Bill.

Kentucky’s agriculture commissioner cheered the passage of the new hemp provisions on Thursday..

For farmers across KY, there is no piece of legislation more important than the #FarmBill. I am excited that @SenateMajLdr’s #HempFarmingAct made it into this measure, which will allow states to unleash the full economic potential of our industrial hemp pilot programs. #KyAg365 pic.twitter.com/HjU6OGKNjZ

— Commissioner Quarles (@KYAgCommish) June 28, 2018

Tom Angell publishes Marijuana Moment news and founded the nonprofit Marijuana Majority. Follow Tom on Twitter for breaking news and subscribe to his daily newsletter.

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RELATED:

https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/3530/text?format=txt

http://www.cannabisbusinesstimes.com/article/industrial-hemp-farm-bill-mcconnell/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hemp_Farming_Act_of_2018

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hemp_in_Kentucky

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Congressional Republicans Block Votes On Hemp Amendments

Published 2 days ago on May 16, 2018 By Tom Angell

In the latest development in a series of anti-cannabis moves, congressional Republican leadership has blocked consideration of several industrial hemp amendments.

Supporters were seeking to attach the measures to the large-scale Farm Bill, which sets food and agriculture policy for the country, but the House Rules Committee on Wednesday decided that the proposals cannot be considered on the floor.

The anti-cannabis chairman of the panel did, however, reveal that a broader deal for industrial hemp might be in the works.

One of the measures the committee killed, submitted by Reps. James Comer (R-KY) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), along with a bipartisan list of cosponsors, would have legalized hemp and made it eligible for crop insurance.

“Hemp is a crop with a long and rich history in our country,” Comer said in introducing his amendment before the committee. “It was grown by many of our founding fathers.”

Comer, who is a former Kentucky agriculture commissioner, said his state’s existing industrial hemp research program, which is authorized under a previous Farm Bill enacted in 2014, “has been a great success.”

He also spoke about the economic potential of the plant. “Times are tough in rural america,” he said. “For rural Kentuckians, industrial hemp has provided a new crop and business opportunity.”

But in a party-line move, the committee voted 8 to 3 to reject a motion to add Comer’s amendment to the list of proposals approved for floor consideration.

Another hemp amendment, filed by Reps. Thomas Massie (R-KY) and Jared Polis (D-CO), would have removed hemp from the list of federally banned substances.

A third proposal, submitted by Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY), sought to create “a safe harbor for financial institutions that provide services to hemp legitimate businesses” that operate under state-authorized research programs.

“There is a proud history in American and in Kentucky [for hemp] as an agriculture product,” Barr said when testifying for his amendment, noting that it can be used in over 25,000 products.

Under current law, banks that work with legitimate hemp companies “fear reprisal from federal regulators,” Barr said, arguing that his proposed measure would protect financial institutions “from unnecessary interference from bank examiners and regulators” and give producers rights that “every other American crop enjoys.”

The committee did not hold specific votes on those two measures.

Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (R-TX) has made a consistent practice of blocking cannabis measures from advancing over the past several years.

Sessions, seemingly mistakenly, told Comer during the Wednesday hearing that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has “a clause…that industrial hemp should be declassified under their Schedule I drugs, which they concur, which is the position you hold, too.”

A hemp lobbyist told Marijuana Moment in an email that he had not heard of the DEA taking a pro-hemp position.

Polis, who as a Rules Committee member made the unsuccessful motion to let the full House vote on Comer’s amendment, argued that hemp is a “common sense area” that enjoys bipartisan support. The measure, he said, would simply “treat industrial hemp as the agricultural commodity that it is.”

While Sessions and other GOP panel members were not swayed, the chairman did hint just before the vote that there may still be hope for hemp reform, saying that the issue would be “determined by an agreement that would be reached” with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

McConnell last month filed a hemp legalization bill, which Comer’s amendment closely modeled. Fully a fifth of the Senate is now signed on as cosponsoring that legislation, and the majority leader has already announced plans to attach his hemp language to the version of the Farm Bill being considered by the Senate this month.

While it is unclear what exactly Sessions was suggesting when he referred to an “agreement” with McConnell, it may have been a reference to the conference committee process that will merge the House and Senate’s respective versions of the Farm Bill into a single proposal after each chamber passes its legislation. If McConnell succeeds in attaching hemp legalization to the Senate bill, it would then be up for consideration as part of the final legislation sent to President Trump for signing into law.

In 2014, McConnell successfully inserted a provision to prevent federal interference in hemp research programs in that year’s version of the Farm Bill.

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  RulesReps  Streamed live on May 16, 2018                            Rules Committee Hearing for May 16, 2018.

Hemp brings jobs and more than $16.7 million in sales to Kentucky

Beth Warren, Louisville Courier Journal Published 11:57 a.m. ET May 1, 2018

A report card of sorts grading hemp’s impact on Kentucky showed these scores:

Eighty-one new full-time jobs. More than $16.7 million in gross product sales. And $7.5 million for farmers.

Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles included these figures from last year in an April 24 letter to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Rand Paul calling hemp’s economic impact “significant.”

“My goal is to make Kentucky an epicenter for hemp farmers and processors,” Quarles wrote, according to a copy of the letter obtained this week by Courier Journal.

He said he wants Kentucky to “have a head start in the race against competitors in other states,” as he anticipates Congress will remove the crop from the list of federally controlled substances. McConnell is pushing for this legislative change to remove a barrier inhibiting the versatile plant some call marijuana’s kissing cousin. This would clear up confusion about whether its products are or aren’t legal.

The push to legalize: Mitch McConnell is fighting hard to legalize hemp

More info: Are you breaking the law when you buy hemp products?

Police have fought the legalization of hemp since 2012, complaining that they can’t easily decipher hemp from marijuana, said Tommy Loving, head of the Kentucky Narcotics Officers’ Association.

McConnell was key to the federal “2014 Farm Bill” that gave states the power to allow industrial hemp and to test the market to see if consumers would buy its products — which range from “superfood” seeds to clothing and cannabidiol or CBD oils used to treat headaches. The Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol — a psychoactive compound better known as THC — was limited to 0.3, a negligible amount that won’t allow for a buzz.

In Kentucky, hemp can only be grown with the approval of state agriculture officials while it remains a controlled substance. Quarles said other states have called for help modeling their program after the one Kentucky uses.

Reporter Beth Warren: bwarren@courier-journal.com; 502-582-7164; Twitter @BethWarrenCJ. Support strong local journalism by subscribing today: www.courier-journal.com/bethw.

Hemp vs pot: Can you get high off hemp? More info on marijuana’s ‘kissing cousin’

Hemp instead of opioids?: Hemp is ‘the next big thing’ in pain management as growth and research expand in Kentucky

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(KY) Hemp shows potential for treating ovarian cancer

Researchers demonstrate hemp’s ability to slow cancer growth and uncover mechanism for its cancer-fighting ability

Experimental Biology 2018

IMAGE

Results from some of the first studies to examine hemp’s ability to fight cancer show that it might one day be useful as plant-based treatment for ovarian cancer. Hemp is part of the same cannabis family as marijuana but doesn’t have any psychoactive properties or cause addiction.

Sara Biela and Chase Turner, graduate students in the lab of Wasana Sumanasekera at Sullivan University College of Pharmacy in Kentucky, will present new findings tied to hemp’s anti-cancer properties at the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology annual meeting during the 2018 Experimental Biology meeting to be held April 21-25 in San Diego.

“Hemp, like marijuana, contains therapeutically valuable components such as cannabidiol, cannabinol, and tetrahydrocannabinol,” explained Biela. “However, unlike marijuana, hemp’s therapeutic ability has not been studied in detail.”

Two new studies examined the therapeutic potential of an extract known as KY-hemp, which is produced from hemp grown in Kentucky. The plant strain, growing conditions and processing techniques were all optimized to produce an extract containing substances with potential therapeutic benefit and to eliminate any residue that could contaminate the product.

In one study, the researchers found that adding various doses of KY-hemp extract to cultured ovarian cells led to significant dose-dependent slowing of cell migration. This finding indicated that the extract might be useful for stopping or slowing down metastasis — the spreading of cancer to other parts of the body.

In a second study, the researchers explored the biology of KY-hemp’s protective effects against ovarian cancer, which they had observed in previous studies. Experiments with cultured ovarian cancer cells showed that KY-hemp slowed the secretion of the interleukin IL-1 beta. Interleukins produce inflammation that can be damaging and has been linked to cancer progression. The hemp-induced slowing of IL-1 β secretion represents a possible biological mechanism responsible for KY-hemp’s anti-cancer effects.

“Our findings from this research as well as prior research show that KY hemp slows ovarian cancer comparable to or even better than the current ovarian cancer drug Cisplatin,” said Turner. “Since Cisplatin exhibits high toxicity, we anticipate that hemp would carry less side effects. However, that needed to be tested in the future.”

The researchers plan to test the extract in mice after they complete additional studies in cultured cancer cells to learn more about how it leads to cancer cell death.

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Medical Marijuana, Inc. Applauds New Market Opportunities for CBD, U.S. Farmers as Sen. Mitch McConnell Pushes Bill to Legalize Hemp

News provided by   Medical Marijuana, Inc.    09:00 ET

SAN DIEGO, April 13, 2018 /PRNewswire/Medical Marijuana, Inc. (OTC: MJNA), the first publicly traded cannabis company in the United States, announced today that the Company applauds U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s first public announcement of his intention to remove industrial hemp from the Controlled Substances Act with the introduction of the Hemp Farming Act of 2018.

Previously, McConnell helped develop new federal and state legal permissions for hemp and even steered hemp into the 2014 Farm Bill. Now, according to McConnell’s public senate announcement on Thursday, April 12, the Hemp Farming Act of 2018 would remove hemp with less than 0.3 percent of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) from the controlled substances list. This would include the de-scheduling of all derivatives, extracts and seeds of hemp as long as those portions of the plant remain below the THC requirement.

“During the recent state work period, I talked to a number of farmers, manufacturers, and small business owners who expressed enthusiasm for hemp’s potential, and I was proud to stand with Kentucky’s Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles to announce the impending introduction of this bill,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in his senate speech.

The bill would also add hemp as an eligible commodity for the purposes of crop insurance. This allows farmers to access capital for cultivation and production of hemp and hemp products. For hemp research and production, the Hemp Farming Act of 2018 would make hemp research eligible for competitive grant funding under the National Agricultural Research, Extension, and Teaching Policy Act of 1977.

“This bill has such widespread bipartisan support that it is not only being considered to be an amendment to the Farm Bill of 2018, but also a unique bill on its own,” said Medical Marijuana, Inc. CEO Dr. Stuart Titus. “It will take a lot of hard work to make hemp federally legal in the U.S., but we’re happy to have someone of such power and influence working to help make this possible.”

Medical Marijuana, Inc. currently produces its full spectrum hemp oil from industrial hemp grown in Europe. If made into law, this new bill could not only generate a major market opportunity for U.S. farmers to potentially source CBD oil for such products from U.S.-based hemp crops, but it could make hemp cultivation legal federally as well, making CBD oil more affordable and accessible for those in need.

Medical Marijuana, Inc. subsidiary HempMeds®, the company that sells the company’s Real Scientific Hemp Oil™ CBD hemp oil, was the first company to ever bring hemp-based CBD oil products to market in the U.S. in 2012 and was also the first-ever company to receive historic federal government import approvals for its CBD products in the nations of Brazil, Mexico and Paraguay.

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The gentlemen from Kentucky rise to speak for hemp

By Paul Danish April 5, 2018

When U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) announced last week that he was going to introduce a bill to legalize industrial hemp, there was a sudden collective intake of breath among the nation’s journos, the likes of which hadn’t been heard since the last 4/20 celebration at CU Boulder.

Rand Paul, Kentucky’s other GOP Senator, will be joining McConnell as an original co-sponsor of the bill.

McConnell said his bill would “finally legalize hemp as an agricultural commodity and remove it from the list of controlled substances.”

He added that he was “optimistic that industrial hemp can become sometime in the future what tobacco was in Kentucky’s past.”

The journos’ surprise stemmed from the fact that the only two demographics in the country that still oppose the legalization of marijuana are Republicans and geezers.

But hemp and U.S. Senators from Kentucky go back a long way. All the way back to Henry Clay.

Clay grew hemp on his estate, Ashland, and was a leader in introducing the crop to the state, importing seeds from Asia.

In 1810, he favored legislation requiring the U.S. Navy to use domestically grown hemp for its rigging. And in 1828, he favored a tariff bill, known as the Tariff of Abominations in the Southern states, that imposed a $60-a-ton duty on imported hemp ($1,100 or $2,400 in today’s dollars, depending on how inflation is calculated).

During the 19th and first part of the 20th century, Kentucky was the country’s major hemp-producing state.

In the 19th century, hemp was mostly grown for fiber. It was used for ship’s sails — the word canvas derives from cannabis –— and lines (or ropes, as land lubbers would say). It was also used for clothing; a lot of the home-made clothing called homespun was made from hemp (as opposed to flax or cotton).

But as a fabric, hemp took a major hit from the invention of the cotton gin, which made the production of cotton fiber more economical.

The extraction of fiber from hemp stalks required them to be dried in the sun and then beaten to break the cellulose inner cores, or hurds, and loosen the fibers from them. Henry Clay had more than 50 slaves to do the job.

(Hemp did benefit from “King Cotton” in one surprising way; hemp cordage was used to bind cotton bales.)

The hemp equivalent of the cotton gin, dubbed the decorticator, wasn’t developed until the 20th century.

Just about the time hemp seemed poised to take off as a major 20th century crop — a 1937 issue of Popular Mechanics described a number of major uses and called it a “New Billion Dollar Crop” — the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 was passed, and hemp became collateral damage from reefer madness. The war on drugs ensued and Cretans finally succeeded in declaring it a controlled substance and outlawing its production outright in 1970.

But it’s hard to keep a good plant down. In 2014, McConnell, with an eye toward resurrecting Kentucky’s hemp industry evidently, attached a rider to the Farm Bill that shielded state industrial hemp research programs from federal meddling.

It was the same year Colorado’s re-legalization of marijuana – and hemp – kicked in. Today 80 percent of U.S. hemp production, while tiny, occurs in Kentucky and Colorado.

Hemp producers usually make a point of saying that you absolutely, positively can’t get high from the hemp they grow. If so, it’s because they’re using strains that have been deliberately bred to have absolutely, positively no THC in them. Other than that, there is absolutely, positively no biological difference between marijuana and hemp.

The difference lies in how they are grown. Hemp plants are grown close together like grass. That way they’ll grow up tall and stringy. Marijuana is planted with the plants further apart, so they can bush out and produce more flowers (or buds as we call ’em). But the individual hemp plants will still produce flowers at the top.

Henry Clay’s hemp would probably get you high, but not very high, just like any pre-1970 hemp crop before the THC was bred out.

Speaking of Henry Clay, hemp is again being grown at Ashland, his estate.

Last October, the Kentucky Hempsters, an advocacy group, held their second annual “hemp-infused” fundraising dinner there, which featured a five-course meal with each dish incorporating hemp foods (sans THC, alas) and show-casing the hemp plant’s edible side.

Chef Jeremy Ashby’s Dinner Menu

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“THE HEMP FARMING ACT OF 2018”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 26, 2018
Contact: Jonathan Miller
(859) 619-6328, jmiller@fbtlaw.com
Brian Furnish: (859) 298-0465

HEMP INDUSTRY LAUDS SENATE MAJORITY LEADER MITCH MCCONNELL FOR PENDING INTRODUCTION OF “THE HEMP FARMING ACT OF 2018”


FRANKFORT – The U.S. Hemp Roundtable, the industry association that joins the nation’s leading hemp companies and all of its major grassroots organizations, today lauded U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell upon his announcement of the pending introduction of “The Hemp Farming Act of 2018.”  Leader McConnell’s bill, which is co-sponsored by U.S. Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Rand Paul (R-KY), would permanently remove hemp from regulation as a controlled substance and treat it as an agricultural commodity.  Similar legislation, H.R. 3530, the “Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2017,” was introduced last year by Rep. James Comer (R-KY), and has been co-sponsored by 43 of his colleagues, from both sides of the aisle.
“The hemp industry is very grateful to Leader McConnell for his strong leadership over the years on behalf of providing Kentucky farmers – and the whole U.S. agricultural commodity – this exciting new economic opportunity,” stated Roundtable President Brian Furnish, an 8th generation tobacco farmer from Cynthiana, who credits the Leader with empowering his transition from tobacco to hemp.  “Leader McConnell’s persistence and commitment has gotten us to this point – through his work on the 2014 Farm Bill and subsequent legislation that created today’s hemp pilot programs.  There’s no better person to help get us across the finish line.”
“While this has been, and will continue to be, a broadly bipartisan effort in Congress, when the history of hemp legalization is written, the two most important figures will be Mitch McConnell and James Comer,” stated Roundtable General Counsel Jonathan Miller, who previously served as Kentucky’s State Treasurer and Chair of the Kentucky Democratic Party. “Everyone who is working so hard to build this nascent industry understands that we owe deep appreciation to Senator McConnell for his strong commitment and steady leadership on this issue.”

Mitch McConnell wants hemp removed from controlled substance list

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP)The U.S. Senate’s top leader wants to bring hemp production back into the mainstream by removing it from the list of controlled substances.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Monday that he’ll introduce legislation to legalize hemp as an agricultural commodity.

The Republican made the announcement in his home state of Kentucky, which has been at the forefront of hemp’s comeback.

Growing hemp without a federal permit has long been banned due to its classification as a controlled substance related to marijuana. Hemp and marijuana are the same species, but hemp has a negligible amount of THC, the psychoactive compound that gives marijuana users a high.

Hemp got a limited reprieve with the 2014 federal Farm Bill, which allows state agriculture departments to designate hemp projects for research and development. So far, more than 30 states have authorized hemp research.

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Kentucky Congressman Champions Deregulation of Industrial Hemp

1/7/2018 |

Chris Clayton

A freshman Kentucky congressmen, and member of the House Agriculture Committee, attended the American Farm Bureau Federation convention on Sunday to promote his new legislation to deregulate industrial hemp nationally.

Rep. James Comer, a Republican representing Kentucky’s 1st Congressional District, was the state’s agricultural commissioner from 2012 to 2016 before being elected to Congress. During his time as ag commissioner, the state passed a bill to set up a regulatory framework to make industrial hemp a reality.

“That was six years ago. Today, Kentucky is the leading industrial-hemp producing state in the nation and 20 other states have passed similar legislation.”

Comer’s bill would reclassify industrial hemp from a controlled substance to an agricultural crop. The bill would make it clear it is not a drug and Comer said he does not support legalization of marijuana.

“I’m trying to differentiate between marijuana and hemp,” he said.

Hemp generally has less than .3% of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the chemical compound that creates the high in marijuana, which generally has 15% or more THC. That difference is “It is a crop that has a lot of potential, not just for farmers, but for manufacturing,” Comer said.

Hemp can still produce Cannabidiol (CBD) oil that Comer said can be a solution in managing pain, and possibly help address the country’s opioid crisis. CBD oil can treat pain in a non-addictive manner, he said.

“I think hemp has a very bright future, but we have to get the federal government off the backs of producers and give the private sector confidence that this is an agricultural crop and something worth investing in, not something they have to worry about some overzealous DEA agent or Department of Justice coming in and seizing their assets because they do not know the difference between hemp and marijuana.”

Beyond CBD oil, Comer said there is a Louisville company making fiber, as well as a fiber foam that is going into at least some automobile production. Comer said other auto manufacturers want to research further uses for auto interiors as well. There are also companies using hemp to produce animal feed and bedding, he said.

“We’re trying to utilize every part of the plant and I feel Kentucky has proven there is huge demand for hemp products,” Comer said.

Comer said his bill has House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., as a co-sponsor. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., also is going to introduce a companion bill in the Senate. McConnell had language in the last farm bill to help commercialize the crop in the state.

Comer said he will likely look to move his legislation through the Energy and Commerce Committee, as well as Judiciary, but he said it is possible the bill might be included in the upcoming farm bill. Comer added, however, that at least some members of the House Agriculture Committee are leery of dealing with a hemp-legalization bill.

“The Ag Committee really is not as crazy about this as some of the other committees,” Comer said. “They hear hemp and they get scared.”

Comer’s bill comes, however, as Attorney General Jeff Sessions seeks to potentially reinstate more prosecutorial authority over marijuana even as more states are legalizing the drug. That could blur the lines in the debate about hemp as well.

The American Farm Bureau Federation also has endorsed the bill and the growth of industrial hemp as an agricultural industry.

Chris Clayton can be reached at Chris.Clayton@dtn.com

Follow him on Twitter @ChrisClaytonDTN

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Kentucky Producers: Federal Rollback of Marijuana Enforcement Won’t Affect Hemp

By Nicole Erwin 44 minutes ago

Kentucky’s industrial hemp research program is on a trajectory for growth with highest number of approved applicants this year.  Hemp’s association with Marijuana however, remains a  hurdle for producers.

In a recent breakout session at the American Farm Bureau National Convention in Nashville hemp supporters discussed legislation to remove the crop from the DEA’s schedule one substance list.  Hemp is only legal in states with certified industrial hemp pilot programs like Kentucky. The federal government currently classifies hemp as an illegal substance due to its similarities to marijuana.

West Kentucky hemp processor Katie Moyer says Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ move to rescind the ‘Cole memo,’ which reflects a passive federal policy on the enforcement of cannabis laws, won’t affect hemp or the proposed Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2017.

“Jeff Sessions seems to be acting pretty much of his own accord. It doesn’t seem like there’s a big appetite in D.C. for doing the things that Sessions is doing.” Moyer said.

Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles has said the 2014 Farm Bill gives clear authority to conduct an Industrial Hemp pilot program, regardless of Marijuana enforcement. Moyer said what could happen in the 2018 Farm Bill remains uncertain.

The Kentucky Department of Agriculture has approved more than 12,000 acres for growers to cultivate industrial hemp for research purposes in 2018.  The 225 approved participants must pass background checks and consent to inspections. Last year, participants planted the highest number of acres in recent history at more than 3,200 acres.

Kentucky Congressmen have filed federal legislation to ease restrictions on hemp; including the most filling by Congressman Andy Barr. H.R. 4711 which asks for protections for institutions that provide financial services to hemp businesses.

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Ryan Quarles

@RyanQuarlesKY

Section 7606 of 2014 Farm Bill gives clear authority to conduct an Industrial Hemp pilot program! Just approved 12,000+ acres for 2018. https://twitter.com/jimhigdon/status/950191461701701632 …

8:46 PM – Jan 7, 2018