Agriculture
12:48 pm
Thu January 31, 2013

McConnell Joins Supporters of Legalizing Industrial Hemp

A legislative hearing for a Kentucky Senate bill on legislative hemp is scheduled for Feb. 11.

The effort to legalize industrial hemp is picking up more support--this time, from the highest-ranking Republican U.S. Senator.

Kentucky's Mitch McConnell issued a statement Thursday announcing he now backs the legalization effort.

"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," said McConnell in his statement.

"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.”

Sen. Rand Paul of Bowling Green has been leading the charge to get federal hemp laws changed. Kentucky Congressmen John Yarmuth and Thomas Massie also back that effort.

At the state level, Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer has made legalizing industrial hemp his number one legislative priority. Despite opposition from law enforcement groups, Comer has been increasingly vocal about his belief that opening hemp markets could help Kentucky's farmers and small businesses.

The University of Kentucky is set to soon release a study assessing the potential economic impact of hemp legalization.