Kentucky state officials sue federal govt over held up hemp seeds


VH HAMMER/FlickrCommons

Earlier this year, on February 7th, President Barack Obama signed a new farm bill, backed by a rare display of bipartisan politicking. Originally introduced by cannabis-friendly Congressmen Jared Polis (D – CO), Earl Blumenauer (D – OR), and Thomas Massie (R – KY), the bill contained a very special amendment. For the first time in decades, the federal government had made an allowance for the cultivation of hemp. The hemp caveat only applies to states that have passed their own form of hemp legalization, and Massie’s Kentucky is one of those states.
Also from the Commonwealth of Kentucky is Republican Senator Rand Paul, who has made clear his support for hemp cultivation in the state. The senior Senator from Kentucky and possible-Sleestack Mitch McConnell was reported to be instrumental in making sure that the bill that the president signed retained the hemp growing amendment.
Kentucky was poised to re-establish its roots in a hemp trade that flourished in the state until it was banned by the federal government in 1937. Today, however, the state finds itself embroiled in a lawsuit against the federal government, and their first hemp harvest hangs in the balance.

Just over one week ago, a shipment from Spain to the U.S. was flagged and held by U.S. Customs officials in Louisville, Kentucky. Inside they discovered 250 pounds of hemp seeds. The seeds were intended to be planted in pilot programs across Kentucky, as laid out by the regulations in the new federal farm bill, but they’ve been holding the refugee beans hostage ever since.
Not amused one bit by the delay are some of the highest ranking officials in Kentucky state politics, and they are not pulling any punches in their criticism of the feds, nor are they looking to back away from their lawsuit without a fight.
“No state should have to endure what Kentucky has gone through in this process. We must take a stand against federal government overreach,” Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer told the Associated Press.
Jowels all a’flutter, Sen. McConnell fired off, “It is an outrage that DEA is using finite taxpayer dollars to impound legal industrial hemp seeds.”
So they are suing for the immediate release of the Spanish hemp seeds, claiming that every day they continue to waste during prime spring planting season is costing untold amounts in the first harvest’s yield.
Named as defendants in the case are the U.S. Department of Justice, the Drug Enforcement Agency, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder himself. None have offered to comment on the pending lawsuit.
So far this year, new pro-hemp legislation has been introduced or passed in 13 states. Overall, 32 states have either introduced or passed new laws to allow for regulated hemp production.
Head of the non-profit group Vote Hemp is a man named Eric Steenstra, and he likes what he sees regarding the legitimization and legalization of the hemp plant.
He states, “This is the first time in American history that industrial hemp has been legally defined by our federal government as distinct from drug varieties of Cannabis. The market opportunities for hemp are incredibly promising-ranging from textiles and health foods to home construction and even automobile manufacturing. This is not just a boon to U.S. farmers, this is a boon to U.S. manufacturing industries as well.”

Back in Kentucky, local universities and a group of private farmers have donated the land to be used for the state’s ambitious hemp growing projects. Now they just need something to plant.