WKU Public Radio News Staff
Sun May 12, 2013
Comer Believes Federal Government Close to Legalizing Industrial Hemp
A trio of Kentuckians who favor the legalization of hemp says a trip to Washington D.C. to meet with lawmakers and executive branch officials was beneficial.
Former state treasurer Jonathan Miller, Agriculture Commissioner James Comer and State Senator Paul Hornback spent three days in D.C. pushing for either the national legalization of industrial hemp, or a waiver to grow it in the commonwealth.
Earlier this year, state lawmakers approved a bill that sets up the framework to grow hemp in Kentucky if it's legalized on the federal level. The group met with most of Kentucky's federal delegation as well as officials from the Energy and Agriculture departments. Miller says the overall response to their message was positive, and even House Speaker John Boehner indicated he would like to see hemp legalized.
"He ultimately concluded that he was very favorable and that he would use his influence and talk with Senator McConnell to develop a strategy to seek its passage," Miller says.
Miller adds the group may try to get an amendment legalizing hemp attached to the federal farm bill currently under debate, since that would be the easiest route at the moment.
"Instead attach it to a bill that everybody knows needs to be passed, the farm bill. If we can find a way to get our leaders to do that then when the farm bill ultimately passes then our very small piece would pass as well," Miller says.
In a statement, Comer agreed the trip was a success.
“I feel like we had a very successful trip,” Comer said. “We had some great meetings with key people on both sides of the political aisle. We were able to educate people about the economic potential of industrial hemp. And we got a lot of media coverage that enabled us to raise awareness about hemp on a national level.”