An agreement is in place between Kentucky and the federal government that aims to make hemp seed importing a more seamless process.
Agriculture commissioner James Comer announced late Friday the two sides had reached an agreement following a dispute in May when a shipment of seeds was held up in customs for several weeks.
"With this agreement, Kentucky is now the first state in the nation with a legal, practical process through which farmers can partner with the state to grow hemp," said Comer in a written statement. “We and the feds started out as adversaries, but by both talking and listening, we became partners in this process."
The agriculture department says it will fill out an application when importing hemp seeds and the federal government will process that application in an “expeditious” manner. And, the Agriculture Department says the agreement means it has filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit it filed against the justice department in May.
A 250-pound shipment of hemp seeds detained by federal officials for two weeks has been delivered to Kentucky's Agriculture Department.
The seeds that spurred a legal fight are expected to be planted in Kentucky soil in the coming days for research projects.
The seed from Italy arrived on a UPS truck Friday at the department's office in Frankfort.
Holly Harris VonLuehrte, chief of staff to state agriculture commissioner James Comer, says the seeds will be divided into batches for pilot projects around the state. Six universities are helping with the research.
The seeds were sprung from confinement after federal drug officials approved a permit Thursday, ending the standoff. The state agriculture department sued the federal government after the shipment was stopped by U.S. Customs in Louisville earlier this month.
Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer says the state's first hemp crop in decades will be planted next month.
Comer said Tuesday he expects hemp seeds to start arriving soon at the state Agriculture Department.
He says eight pilot projects are planned as the crop that once thrived in Kentucky is reintroduced on a small scale.
The new federal farm bill allows state agriculture departments to designate pilot projects for research in states that allow the growing of hemp.
Kentucky lawmakers passed legislation last year allowing hemp to be reintroduced, if the federal government allows its production.
The versatile crop was banned decades ago due to its ties to marijuana. Hemp and marijuana are the same species, but hemp has a negligible content of the psychoactive compound that gives marijuana users a high.
Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer says an increasing number of state legislators are lining up in support of legalizing the growing of hemp as a cash crop for Kentucky farmers.
Bills have been filed in both the Kentucky House and Senate to allow the growing of industrial hemp after licensing through the agriculture department.
Speaking before the Kentucky Commodities Conference in Bowling Green Friday, Comer told WKU Public Radio hemp is a crop with potential uses for industry, clothing, paper and more. The biggest problem, he said, is overcoming the opposition of law enforcement agencies that fear growing hemp could lead to an increase in marijuana growing. The two plants are almost identical and police say hemp would serve as a cover for marijuana plots.