Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

February 19, 2013

Not everybody sold on hemp

FRANKFORT — There they were together, both promoting a new five-year strategic plan for Kentucky agriculture.

But neither Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear nor Republican Commissioner of Agriculture Jamie Comer mentioned the word on so many minds in Frankfort these days: hemp.

The plan, developed by the Kentucky Agriculture Council (KAC), lists seven core strategies, none of them specifically tied to hemp: next generation farming; new market identification; regional agricultural and rural community development; agricultural education; consumer education; government policies; and policy-maker education.

But the printed plan also lists some “sidebars,” one of which is entitled “Opportunities for industrial hemp may promote continued diversification.”

Comer has made passage of a bill to authorize the regulation of hemp growing in Kentucky a priority but Beshear has voiced concerns about an available market for the biological relative of marijuana and law enforcement’s ability to distinguish between hemp and marijuana.

Currently the federal government bars cultivation of hemp but Kentucky’s Republican Senators, Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul, have introduced legislation to end that federal ban.

Beshear said he endorses the effort by the agriculture community to be pro-active in searching for new markets and diversifying crops, but that doesn’t mean he agrees with Comer’s or others’ position on hemp.

“Hemp is certainly possible an example of diversification,” Beshear said. “We’ve got two issues we’ve got to address there; is there a market for it. I think there are some studies going on right now that might help us in that direction. And then there are law enforcement concerns. We need to solve both of those issues before we move hemp.”

The state Republican-controlled Senate has already passed a bill to set up a “regulatory framework” to license hemp growers and production in Kentucky but its prospects in the Democratic-controlled House are dicey.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, has questioned the economic benefit of growing hemp and says any economic benefits must be sufficient to out-weigh law enforcement concerns.

He said the Senate bill will be assigned to the House Agriculture Committee chaired by Rep. Tom McKee, D-Cynthiana.

McKee said his committee hasn’t received the bill though he expected it to be assigned to the committee Tuesday. He has scheduled a hearing on the bill for Feb. 27.

McKee said he hasn’t formed a settled opinion on the issue but seemed to have his own reservations.

“I’m going to listen to what we hear on Wednesday (Feb. 27),” McKee said.

He said some committee members have discussed a committee substitute to the Senate bill sponsored by Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Paul Hornback, R-Shelbyville.

“I think maybe there’s an education component that might be added to the bill,” McKee said in response to a reporter’s question about whether more study on the issue is needed.

“The thing I think we’ve got to remember is that it’s against federal law and what indications do we have that it will be changed this year?” asked McKee.

Comer said he planned to discuss the issue with McKee before the Feb. 27 committee meeting.

McKee said his committee is not planning to hear from members of the Kentucky congressional delegation at its hearing on the hemp bill.

Paul and Congressman John Yarmuth, D-Louisville, and Thomas Massie, R-Vanceburg, testified before Hornback’s committee. The measure also has the endorsement of McConnell.

RONNIE ELLIS writes for CNHI News Service and is based in Frankfort. Reach him at rellis@cnhi.com. Follow CNHI News Service stories on Twitter at www.twitter.com/cnhifrankfort.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • 0416explosives0166 copy.jpg UPDATE: U.S. 23 reopened; explosives eliminated

    More information on the U.S. 23 closure from the the Kentucky Department of Highways.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0415amy4.jpg Local family in midst of marathon tragedy

    Today marks the one-year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings that shook the world.
     

    April 14, 2014 3 Photos

  • Boyd Democrats take floor at Elks

    Boyd County Democrats met at the Elks Lodge for a matchup between candidates for two of the hottest primary races in Boyd County: sheriff and judge-executive.
    The candidates, sponsored by the Boyd County Democratic Women’s Club, each took to the podium to face the crowd Tuesday night and discuss the candidacy and platforms for the race that is still over a month away.

    April 15, 2014

  • Shay receives 38 years for fatal shooting

    Casey R. Shay, 27, of Morehead, was sentenced Monday to 38 years in prison for the fatal shooting last year of Cassandra M. “Cassie” Owens, 21.

    April 15, 2014

  • 0416homegarden.jpg Space not problem with home garden

    Growing your own dinner is not a concept lost on Kenny Imel.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Greenup court jumpstarts road repairs

    As part of the Greenup County Fiscal Court’s annual expenses, the court approved the first reading of an ordinance that allots up to $1.5 million for blacktopping damaged county roads.

    April 15, 2014

  • Nursing home reports drug theft to APD

    Woodland Oaks Health Care Facility, 1820 Oakview Road, on Monday reported the theft of 30 hydrocodone tablets from a secured area within the nursing home.

    April 15, 2014

  • Devices left from previous construction discovered

    All four lanes of U.S. 23 were shut down for nearly two hours Tuesday following the discovery of old explosives on a hillside rock cut.
    The devices apparently were left over from a previous construction project and were discovered by a crew working on the new Ironton-Russell Bridge, Russell Police Chief Tim Wilson said.

    April 15, 2014

  • Boyd walk to raise awareness of autism

    The differences in the nine children in Carla Malone’s classroom are striking.
    A few can talk, but some won’t make a sound and others jabber apparent nonsense sounds.
    There are playful children and those who keep to themselves. Some of the children can read and do other academic tasks. Schoolwork for others means matching pictures and doing exercises to develop fine motor skills, like learning to hold a pencil.

    April 15, 2014

  • Grimes outpaces McConnell in first quarter

    Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes has again outpaced her likely Republican general election opponent, incumbent Mitch McConnell, in fundraising during the first quarter — but she remains well behind McConnell in total fundraising and cash on hand.

    April 15, 2014

Featured Ads
Seasonal Content
AP Video
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
AP basketball
SEC Zone