DEA Data Show Kentucky Has Highest Rate of Illicit Marijuana Plants in US

Monday, Nov. 11, 2019 | Author: ProCon.org

Kentucky, where both recreational and medical marijuana are illegal, grows more illicit marijuana plants per 100,000 people than any other state, according to DEA data analyzed by American Addiction Centers. In 2018, the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) eradicated 418,076 cannabis plants in Kentucky, about 9,356 plants per 100,000 people.
California, which legalized medical marijuana in 1996 and recreational marijuana in 2016, came in second place with 4,572 illegal cannabis plants per 100,000 people. The DEA confiscated over 1.8 million marijuana plants in the state last year.
Massachusetts and Wyoming tied for last place with zero cultivated plants seized by the DEA in 2018. Wyoming has not legalized marijuana, but Massachusetts legalized medical marijuana in 2012 and adult-use (also called recreational) cannabis in 2016.
Across the United States, the DEA seized 2.82 million cannabis plants in 2018, down from 3.38 million plants in 2017.
Kentucky also earned first place in the number of destroyed illegal grow sites in the country. 15 grow sites per 100,000 people were destroyed in Kentucky, more than double the next-highest state, West Virginia (7.4 per 100,000 people). West Virginia legalized medical marijuana in 2017 but has not legalized recreational use.
Delaware, DC, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming all had zero grow sites destroyed per 100,000 people. Except Wyoming, each of those states and DC have legalized medical marijuana, and 3 states and DC have legalized recreational use: Maine, Massachusetts, and Vermont.
Despite not having any plants seized, Wyoming bulk-processed the most marijuana at 1,095 pounds per 100,000 people, 46.8% more than the next highest state, Arizona, which had 746 pounds per 100,000 people. Arizona legalized medical marijuana in 2010. American Addiction Centers theorized that the marijuana being bulk-processed in Wyoming might come from nearby states that have legalized marijuana, such as Colorado.
Delaware, DC, Illinois, Maine, Minnesota, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Vermont bulk-process the least amount of marijuana (0 pounds per 100,000 people). Among those states, only South Dakota and Tennessee have not legalized marijuana for medical use. Three of those states and DC also have recreational marijuana: Illinois, Maine, and Vermont.
The DEA’s Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Program seized $52,308,982 in assets related to illicit cannabis plants last year.
33 states and DC have legal medical marijuana, and 11 states and DC have legal recreational marijuana.
Read what the 2020 candidates think about recreational marijuana legalization on our 2020 election site.

PLEASE CONTINUE READING…

Jim Barton is finally harvesting a crop of hemp,

By Alan Bjerga Nov 9, 2014

Jim Barton is finally harvesting a crop of hemp, the cannabis variety used in colonial times to make rope, sailcloth and other goods.

But the 80-year-old Kentucky farmer isn’t celebrating the successful drive to loosen marijuana laws that also moved Congress to allow pilot plots of his non-intoxicating version of the plant.

“Marijuana has always been the problem with hemp,” said Barton, taking a break from a green Deere & Co. (DE) combine on a farm outside Lexington. “Marijuana is a danger, hemp is not.”

Confusion over the two plants has kept hemp-growing illegal in the U.S. for generations. As attitudes toward marijuana ease — voters in Washington, D.C., Alaska and Oregon on Nov. 4 became the latest to legalize it for recreational use — hemp has gained support for legal cultivation on an experimental basis. Success could help Kentucky farmers struggling with falling tobacco output and lower revenue from corn and soybeans.

While the size of a potential market is difficult to estimate, hemp’s uses are staggering: 25,000 possible products in agriculture and food, textiles, recycling, automotive, furniture, paper, construction materials, and personal care, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Some farmers are also planning to market a strain for medicinal purposes and sell it across state lines.

While pot advocates remain some of hemp’s most vocal proponents, “there are stereotypes people want to walk away from,” said Anndrea Hermann, president of the Hemp Industries Association, which has no position on marijuana legalization.

‘Mainstream Scale’

“We have a lot of steps to take before we are really launched onto a mainstream scale,” she said.

Blurred lines between hemp and marijuana literally stunted Barton’s first crop, as a shipment of seeds was delayed by drug-enforcement officials and this year’s planting got in later than desired, creating plants about half as tall as hoped.

Hemp was a major crop in the U.S. from colonial times until the mid-1800s, when other crops became more lucrative. Planting revived in World War II, peaking in 1943 after the Japanese takeover of the Philippines deprived the U.S. of its main fiber for ropes and parachutes. Farmers, including Barton’s family, grew it at the urging of the government to help win the war.

The market collapsed afterward, as competitors regained market share and new types of fibers were developed. Legal restrictions also expanded with concern over marijuana use. Plantings disappeared altogether by the late 1950s.

Pilot Plantings

Now, recreational use of pot is legal in Colorado and Washington State and at least 30 states have some form of decriminalized or medical pot, according to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

A farm bill passed this year permits pilot projects in 14 states, including Kentucky, for hemp.

Senator Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican who opposes legalization of marijuana, touted his support for hemp in his successful re-election campaign. With the Republican takeover of the U.S. Senate, he’s in line to become majority leader.

Hemp is grown in more than 30 nations, led by China. Even though it couldn’t be grown in the U.S., sales of hemp products, such as oilseeds and fiber, reached $581 million last year, up 24 percent from a year earlier, said the Hemp Industries Association, a trade group.

‘An Ingredient’

“I see hemp’s future as one where it’s not a hemp protein bar, it will just be a protein bar,” said Hermann, the group’s president. “The product won’t be ‘hemp,’ it will be a naturally gluten-free, lactose-free, high-amino-acid oil. Hemp happens to be an ingredient.”

Traveling among test plots planted in combination with the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, Joe Hickey is seeing two decades of advocacy bear fruit. Hickey was with actor and marijuana activist Woody Harrelson in 1996, when the star of “Natural Born Killers” and “Cheers” was arrested for planting four hemp seeds in a field about 50 miles southeast of Lexington.

“I was the one who called the cops on him,” Hickey chuckles, remembering the preplanned role he played in a milestone event publicizing the pro-hemp cause.

The crop he fought for is now legal — and has buyers. Hemp Oil Kentucky, based in Lexington, last week announced that Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap and Nutiva, an organic-foods company, agreed to buy their products. And Hickey’s no longer calling the cops on Woody. The two are now business partners at Baswood Corp., which develops wastewater-treatment technology.

Hemp Pollen

Hickey shakes the pollen off a hemp plant in a secluded field, sending a white cloud of dust into the air.

The pollen is a key reason why authorities shouldn’t fear his hemp fields, Hickey said. Marijuana relies on unfertilized female plants, which have the highest levels of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the chemical that gives that plant its euphoric effect. Hemp, which has negligible amounts of THC, uses male plants that can fertilize marijuana via pollen drift, wrecking their THC content in the process.

“Give it three generations, and all the THC would be gone,” he said. “You want to destroy outdoor marijuana fields, grow hemp everywhere.”

Tom Hutchens, a retired tobacco breeder now trying to adapt foreign hemp varieties to U.S. growing conditions, calls himself a realist.

Strict Separation

Acceptance of hemp fostered by changes to marijuana laws is a double-edged sword, he said. Attitudes toward the drug could reverse, setting back hemp. And opponents are watching for mistakes — anything that confirms to them that if one is illegal, the other should be, too.

The only way to instill confidence will be tight regulation of hemp, and strict separation from marijuana, Hutchens said.

That’s not as easy as it sounds. Legal hemp complicates marijuana eradication by making it more difficult to identify the illegal crop, said Jeremy Slinker, commander of the Kentucky State Police Cannabis Suppression Branch.

This year, the agency relied on the state’s Agriculture Department to keep track of pilot-project hemp plots. With GPS coordinates for each field, distinguishing hemp from marijuana was manageable as he and other officers flew helicopters overhead.

Yet GPS can be off by a few hundred feet. In one case, suspected marijuana was growing near a legal hemp field — by the time officers were able to say with certainty which was which, the suspicious crop had been harvested.

Crop Confu
sion

Meanwhile, neighbors of hemp-growers would call police to report marijuana cultivation, leading to investigations that a year ago would have been simpler. “We’d find it, we’d eradicate it, and we’d arrest someone,” Slinker said.

Such problems would multiply as hemp production expands, he said.

“We are all completely new to this,” he said. “Criminals always find new tactics, and we don’t have the time or resources to become hemp inspectors.”

Even legal marijuana, should that become prevalent in the future, would likely be regulated differently from hemp, making law-enforcement headaches inevitable.

“We’re kind of learning along with the test-growers,” he said. “In one year, two years, we’ll have better answers.”

Hemp Crusader

Choosing friends carefully will be crucial to industry growth, said Ken Anderson, chief executive officer of Original Green Distribution, a Minneapolis provider of hemp-based materials such as drywall, marketed as a sustainable, natural fiber. When Minnesota enacted a medical marijuana law this year, the state asked Anderson for advice on operating its state dispensaries.

Anderson refused.

Crusading for hemp is his life’s passion. “My business has nothing to do with marijuana,” he said. “The two need to be considered separately,” which he said is a challenge given what he calls a “fight-the-man” constituency of drug-legalizers among hemp’s proponents.

“At a certain point, you have to work with the man,” he said. “That’s when you’ll start to see the scale this industry can achieve.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Alan Bjerga in Washington at abjerga@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jon Morgan at jmorgan97@bloomberg.net Steve Geimann

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Hemp entrepreneurs can’t wait to put U.S.-grown crop to use

Published: Nov 7, 2014, 6:14 pm Comments (1)

By Elana Ashanti Jefferson, The Cannabist Staff

Colorado hemp farmers and entrepreneurs spent this past growing season experimenting with cultivars to find the ideal plant for our state’s high and dry growing conditions.

But hemp is making inroads even in states where marijuana legalization has yet to gain momentum.

Hemp entrepreneurs eager to put U.S.-grown crop to use (interview)

Above:  Some of the products offered in the Hemp & Honey Plus line created by Scott Sondles and Michael Bumgarner. (Provided by HempStrong Brands)

Consider HempStrong Brands, a grassroots business initiative started in Kentucky and Ohio by two entrepreneurial cousins with little connection to the legalization debate. Their long-term goal, which began with the pampering skincare line Hemp & Honey Plus, is to create local, sustainable hemp business opportunities.

Kentucky was once the country’s leading hemp producing state, according to the Kentucky Department of Agriculture. Now Kentucky is one of 10 states named in the 2014 Farm Bill, which relaxes federal drug laws to make way for renewed hemp cultivation.

Ohio also was one of the country’s busier hemp-growing states before the crop became illegal as part of the 1970 Controlled Substances Act.


Kentucky hemp harvest: Harbinger of things to come?


Hemp & Honey Plus currently sources its hemp seed oil from Canada, which reported nearly 39,000 acres of industrial hemp in 2011 and is estimated to export more than $10 million of hemp annually.

Here, HempStrong owners Scott Sondles, 27, and Michael Bumgarner, 30, talk about their push to shift hemp sourcing to American farmers. Sondles is also the author of “Hemponomics: Unleashing the Power of Sustainable Growth” (Amazon Digital Services).

• The Cannabist: How did two all-American guys such as yourselves develop an interest in hemp?

Scott Sondles: In college (at the University of Kentucky in Lexington), I had a custom clothing company. We sold T-shirts to bars. A customer came to me and asked about hemp clothing. Like most people, I didn’t know (about) hemp, but once I found out about the textiles and the seeds and oil and all of the benefits of hemp, I was hooked.

Michael Bumgarner: There are a lot of small farmers here in Ohio who would love to find alternative commodities to grow that are easy and require less input than corn. With hemp, that became an objective of ours. We want to lead the way in the Midwest, educating people and encouraging common-sense legislation to cultivate industrial hemp. We feel like there’s an opportunity with hemp to create jobs and improve the economy. If Ohio legalizes industrial hemp, we could put some small farmers back to work while improving the environment and offering healthy lifestyle products to the consumer.


All things Hemp: Reviews for products utilizing versatile hemp — foods, clothing, crafts, health & beauty, pet gear


• The Cannabist: Particularly with the snowballing national push toward some form of cannabis legalization, there may be an abundance of entrepreneurs pushing into hemp. What sets HempStrong Brands apart from other like-minded entrepreneurial efforts?

SS: The reason we started HempStrong Brands was to work with all these new hemp entrepreneurs. We don’t think of it as a negative that more people are getting into this marketplace. It’s a benefit.

MB: We are really trying to work this issue at the local level. For instance, I’m an Ohio Farm Bureau member, so I’m trying to get more involved with farmers. … So many hemp business leaders are West Coast-based. We are uniquely situated in the Midwest, at the heart of American farming.


Hemp farming: Coverage of the re-emergence of industrial hemp in the United States as federal laws loosen


• The Cannabist: What is your personal outlook for hemp in America in the years to come?

SS: We believe that it’s hemp seed that’s really going to push the hemp industry forward in the short term. A hemp fiber industry will come along after that.

• The Cannabist: Hemp & Honey Plus was the first strategic partnership for HempStrong Brands. What’s next?

MB: We’ll launch our next HempStrong Brand during the first quarter of 2015. It complements our skincare line. We’re also launching a nonprofit organization that complements all of our brands. We will be donating a portion of our revenue to fight hunger and encourage healthy eating.

• The Cannabist: Canada is currently the source for the hemp seed oil that goes into Hemp & Honey Plus products. When do you expect to start working with an American hemp producer?

MB: We’re coming to Denver for the Indo Expo (cannabis-industry business convention Nov. 15-16). We have meetings already in place (with American hemp producers). … As soon as the hemp supply meets our demand, we definitely want to source our materials from American companies.

Topics: canada, hemp, hemp & honey plus, hemp farming, Hemp in Colorado, hemp seed oil, hempstrong brands, indo expo, kentucky, Michael Bumgarner, Scott Sondles

CONTINUE READING AT “THE CANNABIST”…

An industrial hemp crop growing operation hidden in Kentucky could save lives.

Behind The Scenes Of Country’s Largest Hemp Growing Operation

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An industrial hemp crop growing operation hidden in Kentucky could save lives.

The crops are being grown on a former flower farm tucked away on the outskirts of Jackson County and is now the largest hemp growing operation in the country. The plants are hidden from the public, but the operation allowed LEX 18 to document the cultivation of the controversial crop.

The hemp plants are producing cannabidiol oil, also known as CBD, which may be able to help children with seizures. It’ll be the first time hemp is available in Kentucky. However, the sheriff says some families in need have already moved to Colorado, where it’s already available.

"We have families that are out there, living in a strange environment, sleeping on the floor, having to relocate just to have the medicine that they could have right here," says Sheriff Denny Peyman.

But moving isn’t an option for the family of 17-month-old Jolie who suffers hundreds of seizures a week.

"We got diagnosed with a really rare seizure disorder called infantile spasms," says Jennifer Harrell, Jolie’s mother.

Jolie’s mother is part of a group of parents trying to get their hands on the oil and away from a cocktail of prescription pills.

"One of them (the prescription pills) can cause Steven Johnson syndrome. So it can make your skin fall off. And the one she’s currently on, can cause permanent blindness. So those are the decisions we have to make. Its kinda like you’re playing Russian roulette with your kid’s brain," says Harrell.

The plants are allowed to be grown through an expanding pilot program under the farm bill. A few weeks ago, this operation opened right here in the bluegrass again under secrecy, for fear of thieves.

Not everyone is a supporter though because of hemp’s similarity to marijuana. The Department of Agriculture reiterates that this won’t get anyone high and the program is closely watched.

More testing will need to be done before anything can be legally prescribed, it’s unclear when parents in Kentucky will have access to CBD oil. Earlier this year, Governor Beshear signed a bill into law allowing doctors at UK and U of L to prescribe CBD oil from hemp to certain patients.

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Rand Paul’s Quiet Weed Overture

He’s carving out marijuana policy as an area of leadership, and that has some activists very, very excited.

By Lucia Graves

 

If he runs for president, Sen. Rand Paul will not be your typical Republican candidate. On Thursday the Kentucky senator filed yet another amendment protecting the states that have implemented medical-marijuana laws—as well as the patients and doctors acting in accordance with them—from federal prosecution.

The amendment, attached to the "Bring Jobs Home Act," would allow states to "enact and implement laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of marijuana for medical use" without threat of federal interference. The measure would also protect patients in places where medical marijuana is legal (23 states and the District of Columbia) from prosecution for violating federal marijuana laws.

Paul, who is widely believed to be eyeing the presidency, introduced a separate measure in June to stop the Drug Enforcement Administration from using federal funds to go after medical-marijuana operations that are legal under state law. A similar version of the amendment introduced by Reps. Dana Rohrabacher and Sam Farr easily passed the lower chamber in May, underscoring marijuana’s growing national acceptance.

Paul’s press person has said that the new amendment, if enacted, would go beyond the Farr-Rohrabacher legislation by providing a more formal framework for protecting states that have enacted medical-marijuana laws.

While passage of the amendment is unlikely—it’s not even expected to come up for a vote—the news of its introduction was excitedly written up by a host of advocacy sites, including Hemp News, Stop the Drug War and Ladybud, where advocates encouraged readers to contact their senator in support of Amendment 3630. "When calling or writing, remember that you catch more flies with sugar than honey," advises one post, presumably meaning you catch more flies with honey than vinegar. "Reframing the medical cannabis issue as a human-rights issue, not a partisan one, will also help."

Paul also has been outspoken in his support for industrial hemp, working with his fellow senator from Kentucky, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, to pass a measure earlier this year allowing states to grow industrial hemp for research. The legislation is a boon to farmers in Eastern Kentucky, and while it may seem like little more than a pet project for Kentuckians, marijuana activists have been quietly cheering ever since they first got wind of Paul’s plan.

Republicans’ views on medical marijuana have been shifting over the past few years and the Farr-Rohrabacher vote in the House is only the most recent proof. Recent polling by the Pew Research Center found most Americans think pot should be legal, in contrast to a decade ago when voters opposed it by a 2-to-1 ratio, and that there’s broad agreement that government enforcement of marijuana laws is not worth the cost. One poll from 2013 found that 78 percent of independents and 67 percent of Republicans think government enforcement efforts cost more than they’re worth. Younger Americans are even more likely to think so.

A recent story in the Los Angeles Times details why Republicans are slowly embracing marijuana, arguing that the rise of the tea party has given an unforeseen boost to legalization. The story notes tea partiers see the federal government’s position on marijuana as an example of government overreach, and quotes Dan Riffle, then a lobbyist with the Marijunana Policy Project, saying Igor Birman, a tea-party candidate looking to knock out Democrat Ami Berra in a congressional swing district in California, is among a growing number of pro-reform Republicans.

"To many political observers, it looks like Rand Paul is already eyeing a run for the GOP nomination for president in 2016," marijuana activist Joe Klare wrote in The 420 Times at the time. "Someone in the White House that supports industrial hemp—and drug-policy reform in general—would be a huge boost to the prospects of actual reform on a federal level."

Marijuana has been called "the sleeper issue of 2016" and something that’s only going to get bigger. As a libertarian senator, Paul has long been in favor of decriminalization and is quite clearly the most pro-reform Republican 2016 contender on the issue of marijuana. (While other likely contenders, such as Florida’s Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, haven’t weighed in on medical marijuana, others, like New Jersey’s Chris Christie have come out against it.) Paul has been considered a leader on the issue in Congress, and even sided with President Obama in noting that minorities are unfairly burdened by drug laws. And as Slate‘s Dave Weigel noted earlier this year, conservatives have stayed with him on the issue, especially as Paul assured them his interest was not in legalizing hard drugs but in reducing minimum sentences. (In 2013 he alienated some activists by claiming the drug was "not healthy").

For now, Paul is not backing away from those marijuana-reform bona fides, and the fact that he’s been so outspoken on the issue this summer should encourage activists. Indeed on other issues, such as his position on relations with Israel, he’s been massaging his approach ahead of an expected run.

"It’s pretty clear that Rand Paul is working hard to appeal to diverse constituencies as he weighs throwing his hat into the race for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination," Tom Angell, a spokesman for the pro-legalization group Marijuana Majority, said in an email. "With polls showing supermajority support for medical marijuana across virtually every demographic group, it makes sense Sen. Paul would want to be at the forefront of efforts to modernize these outdated federal laws. And with five U.S. House floor votes in a row coming out favorably for cannabis-policy reformers over the past few months, we expect to see more senators realizing that getting onto the winning side of this issue is a smart move."

It certainly might expand the pool of people who’d consider voting for a Republican.

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Colo. man moves hemp operation to Ky. to make medicine

by Melissa Swan

WHAS11.com

Posted on August 12, 2014 at 12:11 AM

Updated Tuesday, Aug 12 at 12:12 AM

Related:

LOUISVILLE, Ky.  (WHAS11) — A man form Colorado is staking his time, money and experience on a farm in Kentucky all to make medicine from hemp.

“I use the word phenomenon.  Agriculture phenomenon, in Kentucky’s very, very near future,” Josh Stanley said.

 

In Colorado, Stanley is known as a medical marijuana pioneer.

 

Stanley and four of his brothers have cultivated many forms of medical pot to help control seizures in children. They said they believe it can help others, including cancer patients and veterans.

“It worked for depression, it worked to curb the post traumatic stress disorder, the flair ups, it worked so well we were astonished,” Stanley said.

Earlier this year, Stanley was front and center in Frankfort testifying before Kentucky lawmakers about the Colorado Cannabis.

In an exclusive WHAS11 interview, Stanley talked about moving the base of his operation to Kentucky.  But here, he said, he isn’t concentrating on medical marijuana which is still illegal in Kentucky.  Instead, he will shift his focus to hemp.

“I don’t use the cannabis word or the marijuana word.  That turns people off immediately.  What we’re dealing in is hemp. Both in nutritional and medical purposes,” he said.

He’s investing in Kentucky, partnering with farmers on two pilot project and in the market to buy land.

“Kentucky is the place to be and Kentucky is going to be the example for the rest of the country.  I am confident of that,” Stanley said.

Stanley said his interest in medicinal hemp began with his own back injury. He was using pharmaceutical drugs when his friend told him to try hemp.

He said within three weeks he was off all pain pills.

Since then, Stanley and his brothers have been at the forefront of creating strains of medical marijuana in Colorado with drastically reduced levels of THC (the substance that gets you high) and turning it into medicine.

Now, he said Kentucky is on the forefront of making medicine – from hemp.

“There are so many unanswered questions, but we are not going to answer them unless we get to it. What my company, and now non-profit organization, seeks to do is lend a hand,” he said.

This fall the hemp from this farm will be turned into an oil – CBD oil — and distributed to children and veterans.

“My hope is in the pilot project that we can take care of 400. We need to be able to take care of 400,000, but that’s OK.  It’s a start. You have to start somewhere,” Stanley said. 

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Hemp Crops Are Flourishing in Kentucky

 

 

 

Posted by: admin Posted date: August 04, 2014 In: News

After a nonsensical battle simply to get the seeds into the arms of farmers in the Bluegrass State, hemp crops are lastly on the develop.

Kentucky’s first crop of hemp in many years is claimed to be flourishing simply two months after the state formally legalized the plant genus for cultivation and analysis functions.

College of Kentucky’s plant researcher David Williams says the cultivation course of is “thrilling” and that the expertise is “very enjoyable”. “It’s numerous enjoyable to be concerned in one thing that’s new and probably potential for Kentucky farmers,” Williams avowed.

Williams says that he’ll harvest the primary crops at his faculty’s plots this September and examine the expansion price to that of 12 different varieties they’re at present rising out.

He additionally was fast to level out that the wrestle to get the seeds the place they wanted to be value them roughly a month of rising time.

“I feel we will develop bigger crops with a full rising season,” Williams defined. “We misplaced a few month.”

Researchers on the school of Murray State declare they’ve crops reaching heights of roughly 14 ft.

Whereas in Japanese Kentucky’s Rockcastle County, the Rising Warriors Undertaking planted hemp on an previous tobacco farm and has reported crops which have reached the sixteen-foot mark.

Ah sure. Hemp is on the develop as soon as once more in the South! How candy it’s!

Source

Kentucky AG Jack Conway Gives the OK to Begin Growing Hemp

By Joe Corcoran

Six universities in Kentucky may now begin growing legal hemp this year. Agriculture Commissioner James Comer told Kentucky Public Radio his office has received the go-ahead from the Attorney General’s office to begin pilot projects with the plant.

Those projects were made possible by last year’s state legislation providing a regulatory framework and a provision inserted in a recent federal farm bill. Comer says his office will begin immediately to finalize regulations concerning the growth and production of hemp.

The chair of Eastern Kentucky University’s Agriculture Department, Dr. John Settimi, says one drawback is the availability of seeds since there have been no legal sources in the U. S. for decades.

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“There is no correlation between Morgan & Morgan and the medical marijuana,” Stumbo spokesman Brian Wilkerson said.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo pitching personal-injury law firm in TV commercials

By John Cheves — jcheves@herald-leader.com

 

 

 

House Speaker Greg Stumbo has accepted a position as partner at Morgan & Morgan, a Florida-based personal-injury law firm whose founder, John Morgan, is a major financial backer of the movement to legalize medical marijuana.

In September, Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, announced that he wants a debate in Kentucky about legalizing marijuana for medical purposes.

"I am open and leaning toward supporting the use of medical marijuana as I read more and more research," Stumbo said on Sept. 24.

Through a spokesman, Stumbo this week said he came to his stand on medical marijuana after speaking to Floyd County constituents who support it.

"There is no correlation between Morgan & Morgan and the medical marijuana," Stumbo spokesman Brian Wilkerson said.

John Morgan, a Lexington native who moved to Orlando, Fla., in 1971, gave $250,000 over the summer to People United For Medical Marijuana and produced several commercials to support the effort. He expects to give several million dollars more, he said this week.

On his firm’s website, Morgan wrote that medical marijuana helped his father while he was dying from cancer and emphysema.

"Medical marijuana has been proven to give our loved ones relief they need, helping with pain, appetite, seizures and spasms," Morgan says in a radio commercial he recently produced in Florida. "Unfortunately, Tallahassee politicians refused to vote on the issue last session. They wouldn’t even hear testimony from patients and their families."

In an interview, Morgan said he’s glad to hear about Stumbo’s public comments on medical marijuana, but he’s not the impetus.

"Greg and I have never talked about it, but I’m spending a boatload of money to get it on the ballot in Florida this fall," Morgan said. "Now that I know he feels this way, maybe we can do something in Kentucky, too."

Steve Robertson, chairman of the Kentucky Republican Party, was ready to draw the opposite conclusion.

"We at least now know that Stumbo bases his public positions on his private finances," Robertson said. "After standing in opposition to the hemp bill, it’s mind-boggling that he’d suddenly turn around and advocate for medical marijuana based on his new job."

During the 2013 legislative session, Stumbo criticized and worked against — though he ultimately voted for — a bill that established a licensing system for Kentucky hemp farmers if the federal government decriminalizes that plant, a close relative to marijuana. Stumbo said he agreed with police officers who argued that hemp and marijuana crops could be confused, making their jobs more difficult.

Later this year, Stumbo went to work for Morgan & Morgan. He recently began starring in television commercials for the firm, which employs 240 lawyers in a half-dozen states, including former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist.

"I’m Greg Stumbo of Morgan & Morgan," Stumbo says in a 30-second spot currently airing on Lexington stations. "As attorney general of Kentucky, I was honored to be your personal attorney."

Stumbo, who was attorney general from 2003 to 2007, goes on to tell viewers: "The insurance company doesn’t have your family’s best interest at heart. We do. Call us."

Speaking Wednesday, Morgan explained the hire: "Stumbo is a consumer advocate. That’s what he’s done both professionally and politically. He knows his way around Kentucky and he’s obviously well-known among his peers."

John Cheves: (859) 231-3266. Twitter: @BGPolitics. Blog: bluegrasspolitics.bloginky.com

Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/2013/10/17/2881362/house-speaker-greg-stumbo-pitching.html#storylink=cpy