Law Enforcement Oppose Legalization of Industrial Hemp in Kentucky

By: Melissa Warren Email
By: Melissa Warren Email

Kentucky Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Paul Hornback announced today... He plans to bring a bill to the floor that would propose the legalization of industrial hemp in Kentucky.

At the same time, more law enforcement agencies are speaking out against the bill.

"I haven't heard of anyone in law enforcement that's in favor. I'm sure in this big state there are a few, but given the problems we see with it, we're very much opposed," said Kentucky Narcotics Officers' Assoc. Director Tommy Loving.

The first problem loving sees, it can be a gateway to legalizing marijuana, something he remains against.

"Many of the politicians touting this hemp are probably not aware of that, and that may not be their intention, but that's certainly to us, still an underlying reason," said Loving

Another reason many law enforcement officers are opposed, they say it's just too hard to tell the difference between hemp and marijuana.

"It's the appearance. You can't tell a hemp plant from a marijuana plant, and it still contains THC. Even though it's A minor amount of THC, it's still a psychoactive drug," said Loving.

One local farmer has a suggestion that may eliminate this problem.

"There may have to be extensive research done to change the genetics so you can distinguish between the two," said Warren County farmer Linda Dickerson.

Dickerson says if this were possible, the crop could be farmed in poorer soil where many plants cannot grow, but it would still require a processing plant.

Both Dickerson and Loving say production of a similar, and currently legal plant called kenaf, could be the answer to boosting the agriculture economy.

"It is grown for high fiber now. That's something introduced into Kentucky instead of hemp," said Dickerson.

For now, in Frankfort the focus remains on hemp. Senator Hornback says he is planning a hearing for the hemp bill on Feb. 11.

He says U.S. Senator Rand Paul is expected to testify for the bill.

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