Panel Passes Hemp Bill, Uncertain Future Awaits

By Michael Gossum | 

It was an overwhelming majority that sent the hemp bill through the House Ag Committee Wednesday, but the prospect of hemp brings some major concerns.

"Whatever anyone may say, you cannot distinguish a hemp plant from a marijuana plant without a laboratory test, because the two are the same plant with the exception of the THC level," said Tommy Loving, Warren County Drug Task Force.

Proponents for hemp say it will help boost the economy and create more jobs.

Representative Wilson Stone (D) Scottsville is a farmer and is on the House Ag Committee, but he questions whether it would really boost the economy.

"Corn, soy beans, wheat prices as well as beef cattle prices very well near record high, it's hard to see that any new crop unless it was really a high value crop could become real competitive, real quickly," said Stone.

Hemp is currently illegal on a federal level.

Officials say there is another plant that could serve as a fiber crop similar to hemp. It's known as kenaf.

"It doesn't look like marijuana, and it has no THC content in it. This is already a crop that is used by Ford Motor Company in car doors," said Loving.

Nonetheless, if it does become legal lawmakers want it to be a part of Kentucky's economy.

"You know if we do at some point in this country start growing hemp as a fiber crop like they do in Canada, then we'd want Kentucky farmers to have access to that," said Stone.

While Rep.Stone voted for it in committee today, but he isn't sure how he will vote if it comes up for discussion in the house.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo, who opposes the bill has said he doesn't know if it will be called for a floor vote.

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