FRANKFORT, Ky. (9/26/13) – Agriculture Commissioner James Comer today stood up to Attorney General Jack Conway when the commonwealth’s top law enforcement official issued an opinion stating that Kentucky farmers who attempt to grow industrial hemp in Kentucky will put themselves at risk of arrest and prosecution.
“Jack Conway is wrong to threaten to prosecute farmers,” Commissioner Comer said. “Hemp is legal in Kentucky, and the federal government has made it clear that it is not going to prosecute farmers for growing hemp. It makes no sense that Attorney General Conway would throw up an unnecessary government obstacle to an industry that has the potential to create jobs and revenue for Kentucky.”
KDA attorney Luke Morgan, a former Kentucky assistant attorney general, uncovered a 2003 federal regulation that clarifies that industrial hemp is not marijuana and the federal Drug Enforcement Administration does not have jurisdiction over hemp. This past summer, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that it would respect state laws governing marijuana production in states where it is legal and where regulations governing its production and sale are in place. Commissioner Comer, who is leading the charge to restore industrial hemp production to Kentucky, has asserted that the DOJ decision strengthens his position that Kentucky should move forward on industrial hemp production.
The Kentucky Industrial Hemp Commission directed the Kentucky Department of Agriculture to draft regulations for hemp production. Commissioner Comer and U.S. Sen. Rand Paul are writing a letter informing the federal government that Kentucky will go forward with licensing and registering farmers to grow hemp.
“I’m disappointed to see that Attorney General Conway has chosen to play politics with this issue,” Commissioner Comer said. “We should be doing everything we can to create new sources of revenue for Kentucky farmers and new jobs for Kentuckians who need work. I call on Attorney General Conway to stop threatening Kentucky farmers.”
Information provided by Ted Sloan
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