McConnell Signs Farm Bill Conference Report With Kentucky Hemp Pen

KENTUCKY:  U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced today that his language to legalize industrial hemp is officially included in the finalized Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (Farm Bill). The Farm Bill Conference Report takes serious steps to ensure the future of American agriculture, and it contains the legislation — championed by Majority Leader McConnell — that would empower farmers to begin cultivating industrial hemp, a crop that can play a key role in the economic future of Kentucky and the nation.

The Farm Bill Conference Report was signed by conferees last night, including Senator McConnell who signed it with a pen made from hemp grown in Kentucky. U.S. Representative James Comer (KY-01), another Farm Bill conferee and the sponsor of Senator McConnell’s hemp provision in the House of Representatives, also signed the Farm Bill Conference Report.

Senator McConnell’s measure legalizes hemp as an agricultural commodity by removing it from the federal list of controlled substances. It also gives states the opportunity to become the primary regulators of hemp production, allows hemp researchers to apply for competitive federal grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and makes hemp eligible for crop insurance. This measure builds upon the hemp pilot programs, which Senator McConnell secured in the 2014 Farm Bill.

“Last year alone, Kentucky hemp recorded more than $16 million in product sales through the state pilot program I previously secured, demonstrating that hemp holds great potential for the future of Kentucky agriculture,” said Senator McConnell. “My Hemp Farming Act as included in the Farm Bill will not only legalize domestic hemp, but it will also allow state departments of agriculture to be responsible for its oversight. In Kentucky, that means that Commissioner Ryan Quarles, another champion of hemp, will be able to help farmers thrive. When the Senate votes on this legislation in the coming days, we will also be voting to give farmers throughout the country the chance to tap into hemp’s potential and take part in its future.”

“When I was elected Commissioner of Agriculture, I promised to take Kentucky’s hemp program to the next level and establish our state as the epicenter of the industry in the United States,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Ryan Quarles. “This Farm Bill helps achieve that goal, and demonstrates that hemp is no longer a novelty but a serious crop that will unleash economic opportunity for our farmers. We would not be here today without the unwavering support of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and our congressional delegation.”

In collaboration with agriculture leaders in Kentucky and throughout the nation, Senator McConnell utilized his position as Senate Majority Leader to secure language in the 2014 Farm Bill to authorize hemp research pilot programs. He built on that success with federal legislation to ensure that hemp produced from the pilot programs could be transported, processed, and marketed. Under the guidance of Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Quarles and his predecessor, now-U.S. Representative Comer, these programs have allowed Kentucky farmers to both research the plant and to demonstrate its full potential.

“Without Senator McConnell’s leadership on the 2018 Farm Bill and the Hemp Language, it would not have gotten this far. I am grateful that the Majority Leader found this issue so important that he appointed himself as a Farm Bill conferee to ensure his bill to legalize hemp will become a reality. As a Kentucky hemp farmer and processor, it is very important to me that Congress passes this bill and sends it to the President’s desk,” said Brian Furnish, Director of Farming & Global Production at Ananda Hemp in Cynthiana, Kentucky.

“We appreciate Senator McConnell’s unwavering support and leadership on behalf of hemp in Congress. By securing hemp legalization in the Farm Bill, Kentuckians can feel confident in the future of hemp and fully embrace its potential as an agricultural crop. This will open a vast amount of new opportunities for farmers, processors, retailers, and entrepreneurs like us here in Kentucky and nationwide,” said Alyssa Erickson, Co-founder of Kentucky Hempsters.

The Farm Bill Conference Report is expected to be approved by the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives in the coming days; it will then be sent to President Donald Trump for his signature. In addition to the hemp measure, the Farm Bill strengthens the safety measures that directly help commodity producers as they confront low prices, volatile markets, and the constant threat of natural disasters. It also seizes on a number of opportunities to invest in the future of American agriculture and rural communities by expanding rural broadband, enhancing water infrastructure, and continuing the fight against the opioid epidemic that is devastating rural America.

According the 2017 processor production reports: Kentucky licensed processors paid Kentucky growers $7.5 million for harvested hemp. Additionally, Industrial Hemp Research Pilot Program processor licensees reported $25.6 million in capital improvements and investments and $16.7 million in gross product sales. In 2017, more than 3,200 acres of hemp were being grown across Kentucky.

Marijuana Legalization Could Come To These 12 States This Year

By Eric Weisbrot

Despite strong efforts to maintain the criminalization of marijuana use in the United States, many individuals and lawmakers have taken a step in the direction of legalization over the last several years. Currently, there are 29 states that allow for medical marijuana use, under particular limitations, and a smaller percentage that give residents the ability to use marijuana on a recreational basis under state law. The federal government has been slow to end prohibition of the drug, but recent research shows growing support for legalization on a state level for many reasons.

One of the strongest components of marijuana legalization support revolves around the well-documented success of states that have eliminated prohibition for residents. The states that allow for recreational use of marijuana have systems in place to ensure the tax revenue and economic growth is regulated, mostly through the use of bonding and licensing requirements for dispensaries, growers, and distributors. Based on the positive outcomes legalized states have generated, there are 12 more states considering legalizing marijuana use on some level in 2018.

Michigan: In the state of Michigan, there is a current initiative to gather the 250,000 signatures needed to include a marijuana legalization bill on the ballot in the 2018 election cycle. If approved, the bill would allow for recreational use of the drug for those over the age of 21 who are also residents of the state.

Delaware: In late 2017, a legislative task force was formed in order to analyze the impact marijuana use has on state residents from a recreational standpoint. A bill was shot down in 2017, but the hope is that an opportunity remains in 2018 after the findings of the task force are made public.

New Jersey: With a Democratic-led legislature, New Jersey is poised to legalize the use of marijuana for recreational purposes in 2018. A skyrocketing criminal justice cost along with proven racial injustices in the state are the prime motivators behind passing such legislation this year.

Vermont: A bill legalizing the recreational use of marijuana was approved in Vermont in May 2017, but it was vetoed by the governor at the time. A commission tasked with studying the issues surrounding recreational marijuana use, including health concerns and driving impairment statistics, was created at that time. Based on the results of the commission’s work, legislation is set to pass in Vermont in 2018 allowing adults over the age of 21 to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and cultivation of two mature plants.

Oklahoma: During either the June or November elections, Oklahoma is set to add a bill to the ballot for medical marijuana use legalization for state residents.

Ohio: Lawmakers in Ohio failed to get a bill passed to legalize recreational marijuana use in the last three years, but a ballot proposal is intended to be included during the midterm election cycle this year.

Connecticut: Thanks to local efforts from lawmakers in Harford, Connecticut legislature is set to include a statewide ballot vote for recreational marijuana legalization in November 2018.

Rhode Island: After forming a legislative commission in 2017, Rhode Island may be one of the next states to legalize recreational marijuana use in 2018. The commission sought to research the impacts of the drug on its community, based on neighboring studies in Massachusetts and Maine.

Kentucky: A bill for the legalization of medical marijuana may be on the docket in 2018 for residents of Kentucky. Although there is little support from the current governor, advocates for the drug’s medical use may beat the odds during the midterm election cycle.

Utah: Medical marijuana may be legalized in Utah, following in the footsteps of several other states nearby. The ballot for the midterm elections should include a bill for Utah voters to weigh in on in 2018.

South Dakota: South Dakota may also be close to legalizing medical marijuana, as signatures are currently being gathered for a ballot initiative slated for 2018 election inclusion.

Missouri: Similar to South Dakota, signatures are currently being collected for a medical marijuana bill in Missouri which would allow voters to make the decision in this election cycle.


Eric Weisbrot is the Chief Marketing Officer of JW Surety Bonds. With years of experience in the surety industry under several different roles within the company, he is also a contributing author to the surety bond blog.  

Senator McConnell and Commissioner Quarles Announce Hemp Legislation

KENTUCKY: U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture Ryan Quarles (R-KY) announced today the impending introduction of legislation in the United States Senate to support Kentucky’s hemp industry. The Hemp Farming Act of 2018 will legalize hemp as an agricultural commodity and remove it from the list of controlled substances.

Senator McConnell took the first step to support hemp in 2014 by using his leadership position in the Senate to spearhead a provision to legalize hemp pilot programs in the Farm Bill. Since then, the research has shown the potential of hemp as an agricultural commodity.

“Hemp has played a foundational role in Kentucky’s agricultural heritage, and I believe that it can be an important part of our future,” Senator McConnell said. “I am grateful to join our Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles in this effort. He and his predecessor, Jamie Comer, have been real champions for the research and development of industrial hemp in the Commonwealth. The work of Commissioner Quarles here in Kentucky has become a nationwide example for the right way to cultivate hemp. I am proud to stand here with him today, because I believe that we are ready to take the next step and build upon the successes we’ve seen with Kentucky’s hemp pilot program.”

“Here in Kentucky, we have built the best Industrial Hemp Research Pilot Program in the country and have established a model for how other states can do the same with buy-in from growers, processors, and law enforcement,” Commissioner Quarles said. “I want to thank Leader McConnell for introducing this legislation which allows us to harness the economic viability of this crop and presents the best opportunity to put hemp on a path to commercialization.”

The Hemp Farming Act of 2018 will help Kentucky enhance its position as the leading state on hemp production. It builds upon the success we have seen through the hemp pilot programs by allowing states to be the primary regulators of hemp, if the U.S. Department of Agriculture approves their implementation plan. This legislation also will remove the federal barriers in place that have stifled the industry, which will help expand the domestic production of hemp. It will also give hemp researchers the chance to apply for competitive federal grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture – allowing them to continue their impressive work with the support of federal research dollars.

Senator McConnell plans to introduce the bill in the Senate, with Senator Rand Paul and a bipartisan group of members, following this state work period.

Tour Legal Hemp Farm In Kentucky Saturday, September 30, RSVP By September 29

KENTUCKY: Ananda Hemp is inviting the media to tour their 500-acre hemp farm and production facility on Saturday, September 30 from 12-3 at 2155 Grays Run in Cynthiana, KY.

A Farm Bill passed by Congress has included an amendment granting states and universities the right to research hemp. Several states have since started research projects, but Kentucky is at the forefront, experimenting with creating a new industry around this plant.

Meet 8th generation tobacco-turned-hemp-farmer, Brian Furnish, and hear how he is working with key members of Congress to change industrial hemp laws. Plus, get a tour of our laboratory to see how the hemp plant is processed.

For more information visit Ananda Hemp.

HIA 24th Annual Conference 
Is Sept 9-11 In Lexington, KY

KENTUCKY: The Hemp Industries Association (HIA), a non-profit trade association consisting of hundreds of hemp businesses, will host its annual conference Saturday, September 9, 2017, through Monday, September 11, 2017, in Lexington, Kentucky.

The 24th annual conference will feature a hemp research field day and farm tour of the University of Kentucky Spindletop Research Farm, and additionally a separate private research facility and processing plant; two days of speaker and panel programming; and a hemp exhibition open to the public. Prior to the hemp research field day & farm tour, there will be a members-only annual general meeting on Friday September 8.

The conference will focus on the theme Share the Vision, and is expected to be the most highly attended conference in the history of the HIA.  The Share the Vision HIA conference is coordinated in partnership with the American Society of Agronomy, University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, and the Crop Science Society of America.

The Hemp Industries Association annual conference brings together top experts in the industrial hemp industry, as well as farmers, entrepreneurs and advocates who are creating the future of hemp farming and manufacturing in the U.S.  Kentucky’s former Agriculture Commissioner and hemp pilot program pioneer turned Congressman, U.S. House Representative James Comer (R-KY) is expected to speak on national policy, which is a highlight given his primarily sponsorship of the recently introduced Industrial Hemp Farming Act, H.R. 3530.” said Colleen Keahey, Executive Director of the Hemp Industries Association.

Industrial Hemp Research Pilot Program Now Taking Applications For 2017

KENTUCKY: Kentuckians interested in participating in the industrial hemp research pilot program in 2017 are invited to submit an application with the Kentucky Department of Agriculture.

The pilot research program will continue to build on the successes of the previous administration by developing research data on industrial hemp production, processing, manufacturing, and marketing for Kentucky growers,” Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles said. “KDA’s objective is to expand and strengthen Kentucky’s research pilot program, so that if the federal government chooses to remove industrial hemp from the list of controlled substances, Kentucky’s growers and farmers will be positioned to thrive, prosper and ultimately prevail as national leaders in industrial hemp production.”

The KDA operates its program under the authority of a provision of the 2014 federal farm bill, 7 U.S.C. § 5940, that permits industrial hemp pilot programs in states where hemp production is permitted by state law. Participants planted more than 2,350 acres of hemp in 2016 compared with 922 acres in 2015 and 33 acres in 2014, the first year of the program.

Applicants should be aware of important new measures for the 2017 research program, including the following:

  • To strengthen the department’s partnership with state and local law enforcement officers, KDA will provide GPS coordinates of approved industrial hemp planting sites to law enforcement agencies before any hemp is planted. GPS coordinates must be submitted on the application. Applicants must consent to allow program staff and law enforcement officers to inspect any premises where hemp or hemp products are being grown, handled, stored, or processed.
  • To promote transparency and ensure a fair playing field, KDA will rely on objective criteria, outlined in the newly released 2017 Policy Guide, to evaluate applications. An applicant’s criminal background check must indicate no drug-related misdemeanor convictions, and no felony convictions of any kind, in the past 10 years. Staff with the KDA’s industrial hemp pilot project program will consider whether applicants have complied with instructions from the department, Kentucky State Police, and local law enforcement.
  • As the research program continues to grow, KDA’s hemp staff needs additional resources and manpower to administer this tremendously popular program. The addition of participant fees will enable KDA Hemp Staff to handle an increasing workload without needing additional taxpayer dollars from the General Assembly. Program applicants will be required to submit a nonrefundable application fee of $50 with their applications. Successful applicants will be required to pay additional program fees.

Grower applications must be postmarked or received by the KDA marketing office no later than November 14, 2016 at 4:30 p.m. EST. Processor or handler applicants are encouraged to submit their applications by November 14, 2016 at 4:30 p.m. EST.

For more information, including the 2017 Policy Guide and a downloadable application, go to kyagr.com/hemp.

CV Sciences Sponsors Murray State University’s Hemp Field Day August 4, 2016

Open To Public, The Event Marks a Year of Exceptional Strides in Research and Gives Attendees the Rare Opportunity to View Hemp Research Plots First Hand

KENTUCKY:  Murray State University is just one of several universities in Kentucky that has partnered with CV Sciences to further the research and development of the industrial hemp industry. This year marks the third year of the relationship, with the first field being planted in May of 2014. This Hemp Field Day, held on Murray State University’s campus — will serve as an opportunity to reflect on both successes and failures when it comes to cultivating the long dormant crop. The event will feature speakers, research presentations, and serve as an opportunity for all attendees to view the progress of several hemp fields currently in growth.

“As you would expect with any pilot program, there have been bumps along the way, and there are still many unanswered questions but we have to start somewhere to develop this crop,” said Tony Brannon, Dean of the Hutson School of Agriculture at Murray State University, “We were able to get the seed in the ground earlier this year and we are excited to let people view the crop and share what we’ve found and what we’re learning.”

The public event is an opportunity for industry stalwarts to network, share information, and gather new research insights. The field day will also allow those who are curious about the industry to find out more about the past, present, and future of industrial hemp. Beginning at 1:00 p.m., the educational program will consist of hemp program updates from Josh Hendrix, director of business development, domestic production for CV Sciences, Inc., the , local farmer partner Joseph Kelly, and University of Kentucky graduate researcher Leah Black. Stuart Tomc, VP of Human Nutrition at CV Sciences will deliver the day’s keynote address entitled “The Cannabis Disruption: Bringing Hemp Back,” which will discuss the reasons hemp is relevant and important right now.

The second portion of the day will be devoted to field visits, where attendees will be able to view current research plots and take part in agronomic discussion. At 3:30 p.m., attendees will leave MSU’s West Farm, park at the Cherry West Kentucky Exposition Center and proceed to the Field Sites.

Josh Hendrix, who is a Kentucky hemp farmer in addition to his role at CV Sciences said, “[t]his is an industry on the cusp of some big developments, but there is still a lot of opportunities for education and for outreach about what it is that we are doing. We’re looking forward to giving people the chance to see the fields for themselves, as a tangible marker for how far we’ve come and where we might be able to go with this.”

The Daily 202: Kentucky Is Latest Battleground In The Marijuana Wars

KENTUCKY: Happy Monday morning from Richmond, Ky., where the governor’s race, just one week from tomorrow, is a true toss-up. I’m crisscrossing the state talking to voters and trailing the candidates. During a debate at Eastern Kentucky University last night, some of the biggest fireworks came over whether to allow medical marijuana.

“There is unequivocal medical evidence … that there are benefits for those with cancer and epilepsy,” said Republican Matt Bevin. “It should be prescribed like any other prescription drug.”

Democrat Jack Conway, running as a tough-on-crime attorney general, touted his endorsement from the Fraternal Order of Police and fretted about “a lost generation” of young people to narcotics, particularly prescription pain pills.

“I don’t want to hear from some hipsters out in Hawaii saying Kentucky needs medical marijuana,” Conway said. “Because, if you have medical marijuana, there’s going to be more of it. Chances are there will be more accidents on our roads by young kids because there’s more of it. If we need it, the medical community has to come convince me. … And I haven’t heard from any of them.”

The States That Don’t Want To Legalize Marijuana

Public Service Announcement: 7 states are the party poopers of America. Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, Wisconsin, New Mexico and Idaho are the only states—of those where residents were polled—that don’t support legalizing marijuana.

The majority of people in 26 out of 38 states where people were asked about marijuana legalization since 2012 said they supported it, according to a report by The Washington Post. Other states were either divided in opinion or mostly opposed it. For a handful of states, no data was available.

While marijuana legislation mostly happens at the state level, Americans on a national level smoke pot a lot: Nearly 20 million of them said in 2013 that they had used marijuana at some point a month earlier, according to The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. That year, a poll found that 38 percent of Americans have tried marijuana while 7 percent said they were marijuana smokers, Gallup reported.

McConnell Inserts Hemp Provision Into Senate Farm Appropriations Bill

KENTUCKY:  U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has inserted into the Senate farm appropriations bill a provision aimed at making it easier to process legally grown industrial hemp. The measure would help farmers transport hemp between states so the crop can be developed for commercial purposes.

“Kentucky’s industrial hemp pilot programs continue to prosper, and I want to make sure our legal hemp producers can safely transport their crops between states, including to states that maintain processing facilities, so they can fully capitalize on the commercial potential for this commodity,” McConnell, R-Louisville, said in a news release from his Washington office. The provision “re-emphasizes that industrial hemp from a farm bill research program is an agricultural commodity,” he said.

State Agriculture Commissioner James Comer said the provision was vital to developing a thriving hemp industry in the state.