Tag Archives: Ryan Quarles

Kentucky Should Not Wait For Federal Permission on Industrial Hemp

Image result for hemp images

 

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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RELATED:

Two Approaches to Hemp Demonstrate Futility of Asking for Federal Permission

Commonwealth of Hemp: Kentucky continues to sow seeds of industrial crop’s resurgence –

Posted on March 21, 2016
by Dan Dickson

Illustration by Catherine Nichols

Illustration by Catherine Nichols

Select Kentucky farmers will be growing more hemp in 2016 than at any time since the federal government effectively banned the crop in the 1930s, along with its hallucinogenic cousin, marijuana.

This year, 144 farmers and 10 universities across the state will engage in the third year of pilot research projects in the state that many hope will lead to full restitution of hemp as a commercial fiber, feed and pharmaceutical agent.

“We anticipate over 4,000 acres will be grown in Kentucky this year, which is more than four times the number of acres grown last year,” said Ryan Quarles, the recently elected state agriculture commissioner.

In fact, the Kentucky Department of Agriculture says about 4,500 acres of hemp will be grown for the projects this year, up from 900 acres last year and just 33 acres during the inaugural planting season in 2014.

Permission to grow the crop on an experimental basis is authorized under special language inserted into the federal farm bill by U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky. Quarles said industrial hemp, once a major Kentucky farm staple, is highly marketable and hopes Congress will one day see it that way and legalize it.

“As long as it is grown and cultivated as part of a pilot program, it can be transported, processed and sold across state lines,” said Jonathan Miller, a spokesman for the Kentucky Industrial Hemp Council. “Each year, the Kentucky projects are getting bigger, more elaborate and more successful.”

Miller said that whether it’s this year, next year or three years from now, he’s confident Congress will “take hemp off the Schedule 1 drug list so it can be turned into an agriculture commodity and we won’t have to deal any more with pilot programs.”

Farmers, producers unite

Josh Hendricks, a Montgomery County farmer, will be growing hemp again this year. He has formed a company, Hendricks Hemp, to be ready for the day he can freely sell his crops anytime, anywhere.

“We are still trying to figure out what varieties grow well here in order to produce whatever you want to produce from a hemp plant, whether it is fiber, grain or CBD,” short for the medically useful compound cannibidiol, said Hendricks.

Since Kentucky growers must align themselves with a processor or manufacturer before they enter the hemp pilot program, Hendricks has become affiliated with C.V. Sciences, a California producer of dietary and health products. The company  currently imports hemp from Europe but wants a dependable domestic source and hopes Kentucky and Hendricks will be its prime supplier.

Although Hendricks acknowledges that a farmer would need to grow a considerable number of acres of hemp for it to be highly profitable, he hopes the pilot program will explode into something big.

“We want to see hemp become like any other agriculture commodity in Kentucky,” he said. “I hope it will become something that will put money in the pockets of our farmers. You want to be able to say you have domestically grown, U.S.-grown, Kentucky Proud hemp for sale.”

Research remains focus

University of Kentucky hemp researcher David Williams says the state’s pilot programs focus on production science or production and management protocol to optimize crop yields. UK is a participant in the program and will be growing hemp.

A history lesson, courtesy of Williams: The main uses for hemp a century or more ago are quite different than how it could be used today.

“In the old days it was a major component of rope and heavy linen,” said Williams. “Prior to the invention of steam engines, ships were wind-powered, and the sails were made of hemp cloth. The major recipient of Kentucky hemp then was the U.S. Navy for its ships’ riggings and the sails. Neither of those components is viable today.”

However, Williams says the loss of these old industrial markets is being met by modern needs and technology that provide exciting new possibilities. Among the new applications about which Williams is most excited is the potential for hemp fibers to be a component of injected, molded composite products such as the interior door panels of automobiles or the overhead compartments of airplanes.

“The list is almost unlimited, including bathtubs, furniture and much more,” he said. “If those industries move toward replacement of synthetic fibers with natural fibers, hemp could contribute to that significantly.”

Caution amid wild optimism

Would the legalization of industrial hemp bring a windfall to Kentucky farmers and others? The enthusiasm for reigniting the industry has brought with it outsized hopes that Williams suggests are unlikely to be realized. Instead of a massive cash crop, Williams says, hemp is more likely to be more useful in rotation with other crops.

“I don’t want the public to expect a financial boom. I think that’s an unrealistic expectation,” Williams cautioned. “Realistically, we might think of hemp becoming part of the normal rotation. It won’t replace any of our current crops. Even if the market is highly significant, we still have to grow crops [and raise animals] for food.”

In other words, hemp would have to compete with other farm commodities in the state. The top 10 Kentucky farm commodities are: poultry, livestock, corn, soybeans, cattle and calves, tobacco, dairy products, hay, wheat and pigs. Devoting acreage to hemp instead of another proven commodity might be a gamble, at least for now.

“It would be very difficult for me to imagine that that would be economical,” said Williams.

Quarles, the new state agricultural commissioner, said his great-grandfather grew hemp in Kentucky while his son, Quarles’ grandfather, fought in World War II.

“That was a common story in Kentucky then,” said Quarles. “The federal government actually asked farmers to grow it for the war effort.”

– See more at: http://bizlex.com/2016/03/commonwealth-hemp-kentucky/#sthash.N1uIMFUv.dpuf

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