KY Ag Commissioner Supports Industrial Hemp
By WestKyStar Staff/AP
FRANKFORT, KY - Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer says industrial hemp production in the commonwealth will be his top priority when the General Assembly meets again in January.
Comer, himself a farmer, touted hemp's potential as he presided over the Wednesday meeting of the Kentucky Industrial Hemp Commission, the first in a decade.
A dozen members of the commission passed around an automobile dashboard made of hemp as one example of the crop's potential.
Comer says it is crucial that the state to be at the forefront of the hemp movement.
"This is an exciting time to be a part of agriculture. This is an important issue, and hopefully this will make a difference that will affect future farmers for years to come."
The commission on Wednesday received a $50,000 financial gift from David Bronner, CEO of an all-natural soap company. Additionally, a $50,000 financial gift was given by US Senator Rand Paul's Political Action Committee.
Last August, Senator Paul joined other senators from around the county in working to introduce a bill that would remove federal restrictions on the cultivation of industrial hemp in the United States. If federal hemp legislation is passed, Commissioner Comer said, "I believe there will be a mad dash from the states to be the first to get on board. Hopefully, Kentucky can be first, because I believe we'll have the infrastructure in place."
Current federal law allows hemp production in the US for research purposes only, and is strictly controlled by the Drug Enforcement Administration.
The Kentucky Industrial Hemp Commission plans to meet before the 2013 legislative session to finalize legislation it hopes will be filed in the General Assembly during the upcoming session.