A measure legalizing industrial hemp in Kentucky sailed through the state Senate last week, but a more skeptical audience awaits the bill in the House.
Industrial hemp once thrived in Kentucky, but the crop has been banned for decades since the federal government classified it as a controlled substance related to marijuana. Hemp supporters say it re-emergence can help farmers and create jobs turning its seeds and fibers into products.
House Speaker Greg Stumbo, however, says supporters still have not made a convincing case.
"I can’t speak for all of them but this Eastern Kentucky caucus member will be against hemp unless there’s a viable market and unless we can insure our law enforcement community that it’s not going to impede their efforts on drug," emphasized Stumbo.
The bill is expected to get a hearing next week in the House Agriculture Committee. Its chairman, Representative Tom McKee, says he hasn't made up his mind about whether to get behind the hemp movement.