Comer to push for Kentucky to issue hemp licenses by year's end

KENTUCKY: Based on the U.S. Justice Department’s reversal on recreational marijuana, state Agriculture Commissioner James Comer plans to push for Kentucky to begin issuing licenses for hemp cultivation by the end of the year.

On Thursday, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder told Colorado and Washington — two states that have legalized marijuana use — that as long as they have strict regulatory frameworks in place for producers and users, the federal government will not interfere.

Based on that, Comer said Friday that he thinks hemp, which has negligible drug levels, is covered.

“This is a major victory for Kentucky’s farmers and for all Kentuckians,” Comer said in a statement. “Two years ago, the Obama administration would not even discuss the legalization of industrial hemp. But through a bipartisan coalition of Kentucky leaders, we forced their hand. We refused to listen to the naysayers, passed a hemp bill by a landslide, and our state is now on the forefront of an exciting new industry. That’s called leadership.”

In March, the House voted 88-4 and the Senate 35-1 to pass Senate Bill 50, which allows the Kentucky Department of Agriculture to license farmers to grow hemp if federal restrictions are eased.

An opinion issued by Agriculture Department attorney Luke Morgan found that the marijuana memorandum does just that.

“The DOJ memo removes any question that SB 50 and the changes to Kentucky’s laws in this legislation may be immediately implemented,” Morgan wrote. The memo and Holder’s statements “clarify that the federal government does not and will not view Kentucky’s industrial hemp as an illegal product.”

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