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Speaker Stumbo says Hemp Bill Could Harm Farmers

marijuana ky 300FRANKFORT, Ky. (3/8/13) – Casting further doubt on the need for Senate Bill 50, House Speaker Greg Stumbo said it has become increasingly clear that Kentucky would be better served to wait for federal action on industrial hemp before adopting a bill that might later need to be revoked.
 
“As I have said all along, the state already has a system in place for this crop: We will adopt whatever the federal guidelines are, should that ever occur,” said Speaker Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg. “If we move ahead with Senate Bill 50, however, we could very well put in place something that would not be aligned with the federal regulations. Instead of putting us at the front of the line, as proponents of industrial hemp want, we would be at the back because we would have to clean up the law first. I want to avoid that scenario.”
 
Speaker Stumbo added that, if Kentucky is granted a federal waiver, it would be easier for the Executive Branch to implement emergency regulations at that time rather than guess how the federal government would want the state to proceed.
 
“Consider that, according to Kentucky State Police, the current federally approved farms growing marijuana have to have a 12-foot fence with razor wire, 24-hour security and infrared cameras,” he said. “I cannot foresee a situation in which a waiver would be granted without oversight by a statewide law enforcement agency, something this bill does not address.”
 
Speaker Stumbo added that he also continues to believe the Senate legislation should have started in the House, as the state Constitution calls for on any revenue-raising measure. “The bill clearly states that the commissioner shall ‘establish the fee amount of the industrial hemp grower license,’” Speaker Stumbo said. “If that is not raising revenue, then I don’t know what is.
 
“Before promoting hemp farming and products, hemp advocates should show that hemp is safe to use, and is a viable cash crop. To legalize the production of hemp without this vital information would expose Americans to unknown health risks, jeopardize public health and safety, and exploit American farmers. At the end of the day, I think it would be better if we all stepped back and took time to really study this issue,” Speaker Stumbo said. “Commissioner Comer’s own upcoming study, which should have been done before any legislation was introduced, would be a good place to start. I also would support more in-depth hearings to see if there is a truly viable market here for farmers or if Commissioner Comer is merely blowing smoke.”
 
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