Agriculture
4:21 pm
Mon March 4, 2013

Comer: Industrial Hemp Bill to Get Committee Hearing Wednesday

Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer

Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer said Monday that an industrial hemp bill will get a hearing this week in the House Agriculture Committee.

Comer is a major supporter of industrial hemp, and has enlisted the backing of a bipartisan group of federal and state lawmakers. Comer met Monday with Rep. Tom McKee, chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, and secured from McKee a promise that Senate Bill 50 will get a committee vote Wednesday.

McKee effectively blocked the bill from progressing last week after he tried to get language added to the measure that would have mandated a study of hemp by University of Kentucky researchers. The move by McKee led to some hard feelings between him and hemp backers, but Comer says his meeting with McKee was a productive one, and that things appear to be smoothed over.

Speaking to WKU Public Radio Monday, Comer said he liked the bill's chances to pass the House Agriculture Committee Wednesday. And he says he's not worried about the face that House Speaker Greg Stumbo opposes the measure.

"If he lets the bill go before the full House, it will pass by somewhere around 80 to 20," said Comer, a Monroe County native. "That would be about the same percentage of votes it got in the Senate."

The measure would set up a regulatory framework for hemp in Kentucky should the federal government eventually legalize the crop.