Heavy-hitting Kentucky lawmakers on the state and national levels support the idea of legally growing hemp, a cousin of marijuana, but one that can be used to make many products, from paper to clothes to oil and cosmetics.
U.S. representatives John Yarmuth and Thomas Massie and U.S. Senator Rand Paul and Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer support Kentucky Senate Bill 50, Kentucky state Senator Paul Hornback's legislation to clear the path for industrial hemp to be produced in Kentucky. The bill can't legalize hemp. Only the federal government can do that. But the bill sets up regulatory framework for hemp under the Kentucky Department of Agriculture.
U.S. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell likes the idea, too.
"After long discussions with Senator Rand Paul and Commissioner James Comer on the economic benefits of industrialized hemp, I am convinced that allowing its production will be a positive development for Kentucky's farm families and economy. Commissioner Comer has assured me that his office is committed to pursuing industrialized hemp production in a way that does not compromise Kentucky law enforcement's marijuana eradication efforts or in any way promote illegal drug use. The utilization of hemp to produce everything from clothing to paper is real, and if there is a capacity to center a new domestic industry in Kentucky that will create jobs in these difficult economic times, that sounds like a good thing to me," McConnell says.
"When the most powerful Republican in the country calls to discuss your issue, that's a good day on the job," Comer said. "Leader McConnell's support adds immeasurable strength to our efforts to bring good jobs to Kentucky," said Comer, who added that this is not a partisan issue, but simply about Kentucky jobs.
The Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce voted last month unanimously to support SB 50 after hearing arguments on its behalf from state Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer and Senator Hornback. The Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council is also expected to pass a resolution endorsing the industrial hemp initiative today.