Good news on the industrial hemp front this week. Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear reluctantly allowed a bill allowing for industrial hemp in that state to become law over the weekend.
Interestingly, he didn’t sign the bill – but that wasn’t required for it to become law.
“I strongly support efforts to create additional legal cash crops for our farm communities,” Beshear said at a press conference. “At the same time, we have a tremendous drug problem in Kentucky, and I want to make sure that we don’t do anything that will increase that drug problem. I still share the same concerns our law enforcement officers have about the impact hemp cultivation may have on our drug eradication efforts.”
Senate Bill 50 was among the last bills to be passed by the Kentucky legislature last week before they adjourned for the session. The bill will allow for a regulatory system for industrial hemp in the state – complete with police background checks on hemp farmers. The University of Kentucky will also conduct studies on hemp.
The only problem is that nobody can plant any seeds until the federal government says it’s okay.
“The bottom line is that Senate Bill 50 won’t allow industrial hemp to be grown or sold unless and until the federal government takes the very big step of legalizing the crop in some way,” Beshear said to the News-Democrat Leader.
The Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner has said he will ask for a waiver for Kentucky from the federal government. A long shot, yes – but he says it’s best for the people of his state who are looking for new crop options.
Earlier this week, Colorado bill that would allow farmers to cultivate up to ten acres of industrial hemp unanimously passed out of committee yesterday.
Senate Bill 241, sponsored by Aspen/Snowmass area Sen. Gail Schwartz, would allow farmers to register for a state-regulated program allowing them to grow a ten-acre research plot. Information from the study would be used to determine what varieties of industrial hemp grow best in Colorado.
The bill would actually repeal an existing industrial hemp bill passed last year that called for the Department of Public Health and Environment ot initiate a pilot program and study on one single industrial hemp plot. SB 241 would instead give regulation to the Department of Agriculture.
(Read the entire text of the bill here.)
The bill still has a ways to go, and must pass a vote of both the Senate and House before heading to Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper for final approval.
Maine also moved forward with their hemp bill this week, with the proposal moving through the Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee on a 9 to 1 vote. The House bill would allow Maine farmers to cultivate industrial hemp without the approval of the federal government.
And finally, New Hampshire Senate is taking up industrial hemp later today. The bill would remove hemp from the list of controlled substances at the state level, opening up the possibility of cultivation to farmers.