Hemp bill to get hearing in Frankfort, vote uncertain

The Lexington Herald-Leader reports that the industrial hemp bill filed by State Sen. Paul Hornback will get a hearing in the Senate Agricultural Committee when the General Assembly shambles back into session next month.

That’s largely because Hornback, R-Georgetown, chairs the Senate Agricultural Committee; however, the H-L cautions that this isn’t a guarantee that SB 50 — which would allow Kentucky farmers to grow hemp for industrial purposes pending a lift of federal restrictions on the non-psychoactive cousin to marijuana — will even receive a vote.

The distinction between the two plants is likely a key to the success of the bill, which is opposed by the state police because it “will interfere with” their very expensive efforts to “eradicate marijuana,” which consists largely of jumping out of helicopters and riding ATVs in the hollows of Appalachia on the taxpayer’s dime. (And despite the fact that SB 50 would require background checks and a rigorous vetting by statement law enforcement of any certifiable grower)

State Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, a supporter of hemp legalization and production, rebuked the inaccurate concerns of “state police officials” and lamented the fact that the sight of giggling lawmakers will occur, in typical Frankfortian fashion, behind closed doors.

Comer said no one would be planting marijuana anywhere near hemp.

“Every dope grower in Kentucky knows that if hemp cross-pollinates with marijuana, it ruins the marijuana,” he said.

Comer said Friday that a secret vote on whether to allow a public vote smacks of a lack of transparency.

“As a Republican, that’s totally against what we should be standing for,” Comer said.

“At the end of the day, I’m confident the Senate Republicans will have the courage to take a public vote on this issue. It’s a very important issue and received a lot of media attention from all over the country — very positive attention.”

He compared the behind-the-scenes negotiations to political maneuvering in Washington, and he said voters are sick of it.

“I think if people knew, … they’d be sick about this, too,” Comer said.

A 1998 study conducted by the University of Kentucky (which is, as far as we can tell, the latest study of its kind) discusses the economic benefits to the state of Kentucky.

An excerpt from that study (bold emphasis FatLip’s):

Industrial hemp can create jobs in these counties where unemployment is well above the national average. The work earnings would then result in a significant multiplier effect for poor agricultural counties in Kentucky. Multiplier effects result in more money in circulation to pay for basic retail items such as food, transportation, clothing, health, and housing. Increased dollars in circulation also result in a reduction in private and public sector welfare costs. The authors of the UK study measure the economic impacts of a scenario in which hemp industry locates itself in a agricultural county creating one decorticating facility, one industrial hemp paper pulp plant, and cultivating 25,600 acres for straw or straw/gain and 2,050 acres of certified seed; they estimate that 771 full-time equivalent jobs and $17,600,000 in worker earnings would be created. This is one estimate.


One Comment

  1. M 12
    Posted January 26, 2013 at 7:35 pm | Permalink

    Kentucky farmers need this boost and so does our Commonwealths economy. Sad that it would cross contaminate with good ole mare jane but I am sure the pot growers will just move inside. As the fifth poorest state in the Union we better get smart and get moving toward a better future or we will keep letting our rich heritage be stolen away from us, generation by generation. Kentucky Proud