“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

Canadian company eyes Ky. for possible hemp plant

By BRUCE SCHREINER
Associated Press

 

 

Header

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A Canadian hemp processor looking to expand operations south of the border sees Kentucky as fertile territory for production and processing, but its top executive said Wednesday that questions about the crop’s legality have to be resolved first.

Hemp Oil Canada Inc. President and CEO Shaun Crew said the Bluegrass state is in the running for a possible plant in the U.S. to process hemp seeds. The company would look to contract with area farmers to supply seeds to the plant, he said.

The company, based in a town south of Winnipeg, is looking at other states including North Dakota, Minnesota, Colorado and California for the potential expansion, he said.

Crew, who visited Kentucky recently to meet with officials, said the state’s central location and heritage of hemp production would be advantages.

"This underscores what’s out there potentially," said Holly Harris VonLuehrte, chief of staff to state Agriculture Commissioner James Comer.

The crop flourished in Kentucky until it was banned decades ago when the federal government classified it as a controlled substance related to marijuana. Hemp has a negligible content of THC, the psychoactive compound that gives marijuana users a high.

Before the company expands production into the U.S., there needs to be certainty that the plant is legal, Crew said.

"The whole situation on the political end, until that’s resolved it’s difficult to make any commitments at this stage of the game," he said in a phone interview.

"We need to have the legal framework in place for not only ourselves but so the growers have some confidence that if they put in a crop, they’re not going to have the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) swoop in and cut it down and burn it."

Kentucky lawmakers passed a bill this year to allow industrial hemp to be reintroduced, but only if the federal government lifts its ban.

The state’s attorney general, Jack Conway, recently warned that if farmers plant industrial hemp in Kentucky next spring, they would be violating federal law and could be criminally prosecuted. Conway indicated he issued the advisory to state leaders, largely to protect farmers who might mistakenly believe it’s OK to grow the plant.

Comer, a leading industrial hemp supporter, argues that Kentucky law allows the crop and that the federal government doesn’t plan to prosecute to enforce its law. Comer says hemp could give an economist boost for Kentucky. The plant’s fiber and seeds can be turned into products ranging from paper to biofuels.

"Why in the world everybody wouldn’t want to jump on board for this is beyond Commissioner Comer," VonLuehrte said Wednesday.

Hemp supporters say their efforts to reintroduce the crop were strengthened by the federal government’s response to Washington and Colorado, which legalized the recreational use of marijuana last fall. The U.S. Department of Justice recently said it would not interfere as long as the states create tight rules.

Hemp Oil Canada’s products include hemp seed oil, toasted hemp seeds and hemp powders and flours. Its top markets are in Canada and the U.S., Crew said.

A new processing plant would likely start with about a half-dozen employees with the goal of expanding, Crew said. The plan would be to contract with area farmers to supply hemp seeds, he said. The company’s contract farmers in Canada typically net about $300 to $500 per acre, after production costs, he said.

Comer doesn’t expect large-scale grain farmers to shift to industrial hemp, but the crop holds potential for farmers with smaller operations, VonLuehrte said.

Crew said he sees tremendous growth potential for hemp products in the U.S. if the legal issues about the plant are resolved.

"U.S. legalization of growing industrial hemp brings so much more legitimacy to the market," he said. "I think the opportunities would flourish after that."

CONTINUE READING…

Ky.’s senators blocked in effort to legalize hemp

By BRUCE SCHREINER, Associated Press

 

 

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky’s U.S. senators suffered a setback Thursday in their efforts to re-establish industrial hemp as a legal crop, but they vowed to continue their campaign after getting blocked as they tried to attach hemp language to the Senate farm bill.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Rand Paul said they would oppose the Senate farm legislation.

Their amendment would have removed federal restrictions on the domestic production of industrial hemp. The crop once flourished in Kentucky until it was banned decades ago when the federal government classified it as a controlled substance related to marijuana.

Hemp has a negligible content of THC, the psychoactive compound that gives marijuana users a high.

The push by McConnell and Paul to legalize industrial hemp comes after Kentucky’s legislature passed a bill this year to allow the crop to be reintroduced in the Bluegrass State, but only if the federal government lifted its prohibition on the plant.

"Although we’re disappointed in the lack of consideration of our industrial hemp amendment, it is only the beginning of our legislative efforts," the Republican U.S. senators said in a joint statement. "We are committed to continuing to look at all options to win approval of this important legislation for job creation in Kentucky."

McConnell and Paul blamed majority-Senate Democrats for blocking consideration of additional amendments to the five-year farm bill, including their hemp proposal.

"This year’s Senate farm bill is in need of serious improvement and the refusal to allow better ideas and more sensible allocations of taxpayer dollars to be considered is very disappointing," McConnell and Paul said. "We will be opposing the Senate farm bill as a result."

The Courier-Journal first reported the senators’ reaction to the hemp amendment’s setback.

The farm bill advanced on a 75-22 procedural Senate vote Thursday that sets up a vote to pass the measure next Monday. The bill would cost almost $100 billion annually and would set policy for farm subsidies, food stamps and other farm and food aid programs.

Republican House leaders have said their chamber will vote on the bill, possibly as soon as this month.

In Kentucky, the industrial hemp movement has firmly taken root as the plant’s advocates hope for a breakthrough at the federal level.

State Agriculture Commissioner James Comer says its reintroduction would give farmers a new crop and would create processing jobs to turn the fiber and seeds into products ranging from paper to biofuels. Dozens of countries already produce the crop.

Comer went to Washington to meet with federal officials to lobby for a change on hemp policy at the federal level.

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear let the state’s hemp bill become law without his signature. The Democratic governor said he wouldn’t sign the legislation out of concerns, shared by some in law enforcement, that marijuana growers could camouflage their illegal crops with hemp plants.

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Ky-s-senators-blocked-in-effort-to-legalize-hemp-4584896.php#ixzz2VUQvurVc

U.S. congressmen, former CIA director to testify in support of Kentucky hemp bill

Staff report

hemp

Industrial hemp is a fiber and oil seed crop

with a wide variety of uses. Hemp fibers

have been used to manufacture hundreds

of products that include twine, paper,

construction materials, carpeting and clothing.

FRANKFORT, Ky. — U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, U.S. Reps. John Yarmuth and Thomas Massie, former Director of Central Intelligence R. James Woolsey (of the Clinton Administration), and Commissioner of Agriculture James Comer will testify next week in support of an industrialized hemp bill.

Industrial hemp is a fiber and oil seed crop with a wide variety of uses. Hemp fibers have been used to manufacture hundreds of products that include twine, paper, construction materials, carpeting and clothing.

The Senate Agriculture Committee will hear the testimony Monday, Feb. 11 at 11 a.m. in Room 131 of the Capitol Annex in Frankfort. Senate Bill 50, sponsored by Sen. Paul Hornback, R-Shelbyville, establishes a framework to re-introduce industrial hemp into Kentucky’s agri-economy if and when the federal government acts to legalize it.

Immediately following the vote on SB 50, the group will move to Room 154 of the Capitol Annex to take questions from the media.

The bill has support from several groups and legislators. Its biggest critics are Operation UNITE, the Kentucky Narcotic Officers’ Association and the Kentucky Association of Chiefs of Police.

Operation UNITE said industrial hemp production in Kentucky is not economically sound, that it would impose an unnecessary financial burden on the state and could facilitate future efforts to legalize its cousin – marijuana. Police groups also say the legalization and growth of hemp in Kentucky would impede law enforcement officers’ marijuana eradication efforts, because “the plants are indistinguishable to the eye,” said Tommy Loving, executive director of the Kentucky Narcotic Officers’ Association.

The Kentucky Industrialized Hemp Commission says Kentucky has the perfect climate and soil to produce industrial hemp, and the farmers to grow it. Comer believes the crop could be a great economic boon to Kentucky.

The group recently commissioned an economic impact study to be performed by the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture. It hopes such a study could have an impact on the discussion at the federal level to legalize industrial hemp.

CONTINUE READING…

Caudill Seed becoming poster child for hemp legalization

Pat Caudill, left, is pictured with Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer and Dan Caudill. The Caudill brothers are co-owners of Caudill Seed Co.






        hemp-300x200    3 types cannabis

Pat Caudill, left, is pictured with Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer and Dan Caudill. The Caudill brothers are co-owners of Caudill Seed Co.

 
Kevin Eigelbach
Reporter- Business First
Email  | Follow Kevin on Twitter

Louisville-based Caudill Seed Co. is quickly becoming the poster child for the legalization of hemp production in Kentucky.

The company has been featured in a CBS News report, on WDRB-TV in Louisville and in several newspaper articles, with owners Dan Caudill and Pat Caudill explaining what they think a legal hemp crop would mean for Kentucky and their company.

The two became interested in the issue when they met James Comer, now Kentucky’s Secretary of Agriculture, during his 2011 campaign for the office. Legalizing hemp to give Kentucky farmers a new revenue stream is one of Comer’s priorities.

Because it has so many hills, Kentucky has a lot of land that’s only marginal for agriculture, Dan Caudill said in an interview. Hemp is an ideal crop for the state because it can grow nearly anywhere, just like tobacco.

Aside from farmers, the rest of the state would benefit if it could create hemp-processing facilities that would provide jobs, Caudill said. Hemp seeds can be processed into oil, and its tough fibers can be woven into fabrics to make clothes or entwined to make rope.

Every year, Caudill Seed imports from Brazil about 75 tractor/trailer loads of twine made from sisal that it distributes to farm retailers for bailing hay. The Caudill brothers would like to distribute rope made locally instead.

Chances of passage better than 50-50

The company expects to benefit from legalized hemp production in two ways, Dan Caudill said. It would be able to buy seed and sell it to farmers who want to grow hemp. And, it would process seed grown by Kentucky farmers and sell it to crushing companies that would extract the oil.

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Doing study on coal-hemp, calls on changes in fed law

January 31, 2013

Patriot Energy joins state hemp association

CORBIN — By Jeff Noble, Staff Writer

Could industrial hemp be useful in reducing coal emissions and reclaiming mined coal fields in Kentucky?

And could the reclaiming bring a hike in southeastern and eastern Kentucky’s economy?

A bioenergy company with roots in the Tri-County thinks so.

Patriot Bioenergy Corporation recently became the first corporate member of the Kentucky Hemp Growers Cooperative Association, a Lexington-based organization that wants to make industrial hemp legal in the state — something that hasn’t been done since it was last grown during World War II as part of the nation’s war effort at home.
Patriot’s CEO Roger Ford said Wednesday industrial hemp can be grown in a variety of areas, including hillsides, which would complement the growing of energy beets for a biofuel on the company’s energy facilities, including those in the Williamsburg-Whitley County area.

“The optimal planting method seeds the plants closely together, which encourages the stalks of the plant to grow while the leaves grow smaller, increasing per-acre yields. That would work hand-in-hand with our Whitley County facilities. The industrial hemp seed can be processed into bio-diesel while the stalks are a cellulosic material, which is useful for a variety of things.”
Ford added Patriot’s focus would be to produce a biomass-coal blend from hemp and coal that would be what he called “torrified” — an energy process producing feedstock for energy production.

“The overall economic impact would be to diversify and improve the local economy by the production of industrial hemp. It would help agriculture and our project in particular.”
Patriot, based in Pikeville, is discussing the potential for using industrial hemp with coal companies. Ford said testing would be done at a laboratory in Magoffin County, with Patriot funding the research, and the results expected to be released in the middle of March. 
“We are currently conducting a feasibility study that will blend coal and hemp to measure the BTU values, as well as measure the emissions’ reclamation potential to hemp growing forward.”

Ford also brought up the possibility industrial hemp in Kentucky could also be used for energy and horse bedding at horse farms in the state and around the nation. A consultant with Ford on hemp research told Business Lexington magazine earlier this week the use of hemp as horse bedding is “straightforward and has been done.”

“The next step, conversion of the hemp-manure mixture to methane, is certainly viable, has been optimized ad published as recently as 2012 by a Finnish group. … Besides material for co-combustion with coal, we can produce biodiesel from the seed oil, which can be used as is or converted to jet fuel. Likewise, the whole plant can be used as a feedstock for fermentation of ethanol or longer chain fuels — gasoline, jet fuel, the list goes on — with huge markets associated. The ability to capture even small percentages of markets on this scale would be a tremendous boost to Kentucky,” Dr. Katherine Andrews told the magazine.

The state’s Commissioner of Agriculture, James Comer, wholeheartedly supports bringing industrial hemp back to Kentucky. Ford stated Patriot is working with Comer and the state’s Industrial Hemp Commission on the issue. He’s also encouraged with support in Frankfort and Washington from both political parties.

“Thus far, we’re encouraged with the bi-partisan support in Kentucky. Senator Sara Beth Gregory is a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee and we are hopeful that the committee will vote to send SB (Senate Bill) 50 to the full Senate in the next couple of weeks. … In addition, we are encouraged by the strong support from Senator Rand Paul, Congressman Barr, Congressman Yarmuth and Congressman Massie. We would hope that Senator McConnell and Congressman Rogers would weigh in and support this issue. Their leadership is needed in Washington and the people of Kentucky need a change in federal law so businesses and farmers can produce this crop and create jobs,” said Ford.
In Frankfort, Senate Bill 50 provides procedures that would allow and facilitate cultivating industrial hemp, if there is a similar change in Washington. While it’s not a drug like marijuana, federal law still says hemp is illegal.

According to an Associated Press story on Monday, Senator Paul Hornback (R – Shelbyville), chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, plans to bring the hemp bill up for a vote in his committee at a Feb. 11 hearing. U. S. Senator Paul is scheduled to appear in Frankfort and support the measure.

Ford noted that industrial hemp and marijuana cross-pollinates and diminishes the THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) in marijuana.
“In short, it ruins the narcotic value of marijuana. It would be similar to planting field corn and sweet corn in the same field. For law enforcement to object to the production of industrial hemp on the basis that it poses a risk to narcotics enforcement is disingenuous at best. The fact is the cross-pollination would aid in the eradication of marijuana. Businesses or farmers would not seek to plant industrial hemp and marijuana in the same field, because that would obviously be counterproductive,” he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this article

The Latest Hemp news in Kentucky…

Kentucky state senator to bring hemp bill up for vote

  • By The Associated Press
  • Posted January 28, 2013 at 3:13 p.m.

FRANKFORT, Ky. — The chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee sounded upbeat Monday about prospects for his bill that would regulate industrial hemp production in Kentucky if the federal government lifts its decades-long ban on the crop that once was a Bluegrass state staple.

Republican Sen. Paul Hornback of Shelbyville said Monday he intends to bring the hemp bill up for a vote in his committee, which is expected to review the legislation at a Feb. 11 hearing. Hemp proponent U.S. Sen. Rand Paul is scheduled to appear at the hearing and put his political weight behind the measure.

CONTINUE READING…

 

Don’t call it a ‘Weed;’ Momentum for hemp in Ky

by Joe Arnold

WHAS11.com

Posted on January 28, 2013 at 8:07 AM

Updated yesterday at 10:38 AM

FRANKFORT, Ky (WHAS11) — Reinvigorated after a ten year dormancy, Kentucky’s Industrial Hemp Commission meets Monday morning with an apparent new momentum.
The effort recently gained the endorsement of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce and bills that would legalize the crop are expected to be debated when the General Assembly’s "short session" resumes in February. 
Sen. Paul Hornback (R-Shelbyville), a sponsor of one of the bills (SB50) and a statutory member of the commission, is scheduled to attend.

CONTINUE READING…

 

Kentucky Narcotic Officer’s Association: No to Legalizing Hemp

By Kevin Willis

The recent talk in Frankfort about legalizing industrial hemp hasn’t convinced the head of the Kentucky Narcotic Officer’s Association. Tommy Loving, who also leads the Warren County Drug Task, says he fears marijuana growers will plant their crops next to hemp, making it difficult for law enforcement to distinguish between the two.

Some agriculture experts say planting the two crops together would destroy the potency of the marijuana over time, but Loving told WKU Public Radio that wouldn’t deter those looking to hide from law enforcement.

"If you plant marijuana with hemp surrounding it, for instance, in one growing season, you’re not going to diminish that much of the THC content in the marijuana. So your marijuana crop is still going to be a sellable commodity,” said Loving.

CONTINUE READING…

 

KSP: Hemp backers ‘naive’ after endorsing Senate bill

by Joe Arnold

WHAS11.com

Posted on January 28, 2013 at 4:32 PM

Updated today at 8:20 AM

FRANKFORT, Ky (WHAS11) — With momentum building for an effort to license hemp farming in Kentucky, law enforcement leaders lashed out on Monday, saying hemp’s supporters are looking at the issue "through rose-colored glasses."
The pushback came as Kentucky’s Industrial Hemp Commission met at the Agriculture Commissioner’s offices and voted to endorse Senate hemp legislation. 
All three representatives of law enforcement on the commission were absent, including Operation UNITE’s Dan Smoot who joined in the news release from the Kentucky Narcotic Officers’ Association in opposition to Senate Bill 50 and House Bill 33.

CONTINUE READING…

Ky. hemp supporters gain big endorsement

Published: January 20, 2013

By BRUCE SCHREINER — Associated Press

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Industrial hemp’s repositioning toward mainstream status gained ground with a timely endorsement from the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce. But the plant’s proponents have more work to do in cultivating support to legalize a crop that once was a Bluegrass state staple.

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-h8gfyIbtXGM/UAx1yxp4kjI/AAAAAAAAAoU/bG5ez3J9ZJE/s1600/Hemp+-+Kentucky+Hemp+Coalition.jpg

The chamber said recently that provided there’s adequate regulatory oversight, it supports legislation to position Kentucky as a leader in the production and commercialization of industrial hemp. The position was hailed by hemp backers, noting the chamber’s political clout.

"When Kentucky’s leading voice for small businesses and economic development endorses a piece of legislation, lawmakers sit up and listen," said state Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, a former state lawmaker.

Comer is leading the comeback campaign for the versatile crop outlawed for decades due to its association with its cousin, marijuana. Hemp has a negligible content of THC, the psychoactive compound that gives marijuana users a high.

Comer, a farmer himself, touts hemp’s potential while crisscrossing the state, saying Kentucky can become a hub of hemp production and manufacturing. The crop can be turned into paper, clothing, food, biofuel, lotions and other products.

"We could be the Silicon Valley of industrial hemp manufacturing right here in Kentucky," Comer said recently.

Bills aimed at legalizing the crop have been introduced in the Kentucky House and Senate, and lawmakers are expected to debate the issue when they return to the State Capitol in Frankfort next month to resume the 2013 session.

But hemp backers acknowledge challenges remain, namely resistance from Kentucky State Police. And that opposition could have a spillover effect with lawmakers hesitant to oppose the state’s top law enforcement agency.

State Police Commissioner Rodney Brewer last month restated the agency’s opposition, saying law enforcement may have difficulty distinguishing between hemp and marijuana.

Comer met with Brewer following a meeting of the Kentucky Industrial Hemp Commission late last year, but the commissioner said they’ve had no follow-up discussions. Comer said he’d like to have state police support but sees the agency’s resistance as a "non-factor."

"I was a state representative for 11 years and very few bills ever passed without somebody being opposed to them," he said.

Republican Sen. Paul Hornback of Shelbyville, lead sponsor of one of the hemp bills, said state police opposition will be an obstacle. But he said the state chamber’s support for legalizing the crop helps reshape the crop’s image.

"Everybody has to feel comfortable with the bill," said Hornback, a tobacco farmer who once was lukewarm to hemp. "With the stature that the state chamber has, I think it does legitimize it. It brings credibility to the issue."

Supporters say there’s a ready-made market for hemp, pointing to industry estimates that U.S. retail sales of hemp products exceed $400 million. Hemp is grown legally in Canada and many other countries, and imports into the U.S. include finished hemp products.

At least a couple of Kentucky companies – a tobacco processor and a seed supplier – have expressed interest in branching out into hemp. Hemp supporters say that could lead to jobs, especially in rural areas.

But the resistance of state police could be a sticking point for some lawmakers, including the top House leader.

"It will be difficult to pass any legislation that doesn’t have the support of the Kentucky State Police and Kentucky’s law enforcement community," said House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg. "As long as they have reservations, I have reservations."

Another potentially key player in the debate, Rep. Tom McKee, D-Cynthiana, said the biggest impediments to hemp’s comeback are the federal ban on hemp and the concerns of state police.

But McKee, chairman of the House Agriculture and Small Business Committee, hasn’t yet staked out a position on the issue.

"We don’t want to close a door on any viable agricultural crop that is profitable and would be well-accepted," he said.

Under Hornback’s bill, hemp growers would need licenses, and applicants would have to pass criminal background checks.

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul said he would seek a waiver from the federal ban on hemp for Kentucky if state lawmakers vote to legalize the crop. Paul also has pushed for federal legislation to remove restrictions on hemp cultivation. The Kentucky Republican said hemp supporters need to persuade law enforcement skeptics that the crop "won’t make the drug problem worse."

"We live in a modern world where we have GPS," he said in a recent speech in Frankfort. "Couldn’t a farmer or anybody who wants to grow it just get a simple one-page permit and say these are my GPS coordinates where it’s being grown and it could be checked?"

As for Comer, the agriculture commissioner has said he won’t defy the federal government on the issue.

The crop hasn’t been grown in the U.S. since the 1950s. Kentucky once was a leading producer of industrial hemp. During World War II, the U.S. government encouraged farmers to grow hemp for the war effort because other industrial fibers, often imported from overseas, were in short supply.

Because it can thrive in small, sloping plots, Comer said hemp could be a viable crop on marginal land in central and eastern Kentucky.

"A decade from now, someone will look back and think, ‘You mean there were people opposed to growing industrial hemp?’" he said.

Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/2013/01/20/2483327/hemp-supporters-gain-big-endorsement.html#storylink=cpy

Are We On the Verge of An American Hemp Renaissance?

Advocates for hemp legalization are building pressure, with the biggest push in Kentucky.

Photo Credit: SHUTTERSTOCK.COM

January 11, 2013  |  

Kentucky was America’s leading hemp producer in the early 19th century.  Now, 200 years later, after a historic election for drug policy has led to a shift for marijuana policy reform in America, Kentucky lawmakers are taking steps to revive the crop.

While advocates for hemp legalization say the plant could bring a wealth of green jobs to Kentucky, deep-rooted drug stigma and conflict with federal law have made passing the legislation unlikely. Nonetheless, two state bills are in the works, while a federal proposal aims to clear the way for state legalization. Lawmakers suggest the bills could at least open up the conversation about hemp, and clear up misconceptions about its use.

Because hemp is increasingly imported from Canada, growing and making  it in the US could save the US money and create green jobs at home. Aside from soy, no other plant has shown the potential to create so many different products — from hemp soap to paper and oil. Hemp rarely requires pesticides, can be grown in the same fields over several consecutive years, and produces biodegradable plastics and biofuels. Lightweight and dense, hemp-limeis a building material that is known to be an efficient insulator leaving behind a minimal carbon footprint.  

Kicking off the call for hemp production in Kentucky is Kentucky Democratic representative Terry Mills, who has pre-filed an industrial hemp bill that would allow hemp to be made from marijuana crops  containing .3% THC, which is at least one and a half times less than typical marijuana THC levels and does get people high. M arijuana that has psychoactive properties comes from the flowering buds, leaves and resin of the cannabis plant, while the stalks and sterilized seeds of the plant are commonly referred to as hemp.

A federal hemp bill is indeed in the works, but the chances of it passing in the near future are slim to none. The Hemp Farming Act of 2012 was introduced by senators Ron Wyden (D-OR), Rand Paul (R-KY), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) this summer. It would amend the Controlled Substances Act to allow for the cultivation of low-THC hemp and exempt industrial hemp from marijuana legislation.

"I’m not opposed to it," said state Rep. Jim DeCesare (R). "It is a good alternative crop for the ag community." Stil, DeCesare acknowledges that many people are confused by the differences between agricultural hemp and the pot that people smoke.

"They are not the same," he said. "It is going to take an education effort" for the bill to pass the state house. If they can make it happen, which is unlikely, the benefits would be immense. As Rand Paul recently wrote, "[Hemp] jobs will be ripe for the taking, and I want farmers in Kentucky to be the first in line.”

Kristen Gwynne is an associate editor and drug policy reporter at AlterNet.  Follow her on Twitter: @KristenGwynne

CONTINUE ….

Feds Won’t Let You Grow Hemp? Try Flax.

 
hemp-300x200
 
By Michael Bomford

Hemp and flax have a lot in common.  Both have a long history in Kentucky, but neither is grown in the Commonwealth today. Both can be used to make fiber for fabric and paper. Both are potential bioenergy crops. Both have seeds rich in nutritious fatty acids. Both are low-input crops, well-suited to organic production.

The key difference is that flax farming is legal in Kentucky; hemp farming is not. Perhaps because the federal government doesn’t allow hemp production, calls for its return are newsworthy. Agriculture Commissioner James Comer coasted to victory after calling for industrial hemp production in the Commonwealth. Two weeks ago, Kentucky’s House Agriculture and Small Business Committee held a hearing on two bills that would change state law to allow hemp production.

The General Assembly is unlikely to pass either bill in 2012, and even if it did, the Federal Drug Enforcement Agency’s (DEA’s) interpretation of federal law would also have to change before Kentucky farms can grow hemp legally again. Hemp is Cannabis sativa, the same species as marijuana, but it contains just trace amounts of the psychoactive chemical found in the narcotic. Smoking it won’t make you high. Hemp production has been allowed under North Dakota state law since 1999, but the federal DEA has rejected all applications for permits to grow it commercially there, or in any of the other states that have followed North Dakota’s lead. While North Dakota farmers wait to be allowed to grow hemp, they lead the country in flax production.

Kentucky place names remind us of the historical importance of both hemp and flax in the Commonwealth. Hemp Ridge is near Shelbyville. Flax Branch is a stream in Floyd County, Flax Creek is in Lincoln County, and Flax Patch is in Knox County.

Cutting hemp near Lexington, Kentucky. Click image for source.

Hatchling flax in Kentucky. Click image for source.

In 1775, when hemp was first planted in Kentucky, most settlers already had a patch of flax to supply household needs. For almost a century, Kentucky’s Bluegrass Region was the center of the US hemp industry, which existed mainly to make fiber for ropes, sails, and paper. Flax continued to be widely grown throughout the state, too: By 1850, Kentucky grew about half of the nation’s hemp, and about a quarter of its flax. Farmers often grew the two crops in rotation, since both could be harvested and processed with the same equipment. Flax made a finer fiber, used for clothing; while hemp made a courser fiber, suitable for rope. Except in wartime, hemp prices were often below the cost of production, yet the crop’s ability to combat weeds made it a worthwhile addition to a rotation.

Kentucky’s hemp and flax industries both went into rapid decline in the late 1800s, due to competition from cheaper imported fibers like jute, manila, and sisal; falling costs of domestic cotton production; and the replacement of sailing ships with steamboats. By 1860, Missouri had replaced Kentucky as the nation’s largest hemp producer. Both hemp and flax had almost completely disappeared from the nation’s farms by the late 1940s. The last legal commercial hemp crop was harvested in Wisconsin in 1957. The DEA has prevented hemp from returning legally since then, but flax has made something of a come-back in the Dakotas, Montana, and Minnesota.

Canadian hemp is used to make organic hemp products for the US market, which are certified organic by the USDA.

Most of the hemp sold in the US today comes from Canada, where farmers have been allowed to grow the crop since 1998. Canada also grows more than twice as much flax as the USA. Canadian farmers are not making a lot of money from either crop: Net returns are in the neighborhood of $100 per acre. Most of the income from both hemp and flax production today comes from selling the nutritious seeds, which are rich in Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. The useful fiber portion of the crop often goes unsold because fiber processors are few and far between, and transporting bulky straw is expensive. The economics look a little better for organic production, with substantial premiums available for organically-grown hemp and flax seeds and fibers.

Markets for hemp and flax have been volatile in recent years, with many growers losing money on both crops. Canadian hemp growers were hard hit in 1999, when a California processor contracted to purchase 40% of the hemp crop, then went bankrupt. It took seven years for the industry to recover, then acreage crashed again in 2007, due to a lack of fiber processors. Canadian flax growers were also hurt by a 2009 scandal that closed the European market to Canadian flax, after it was found to be contaminated with a genetically modified variety that had not been released for commercial production. Recent years have seen substantial declines in flax acreage on both sides of the border, as farmers dedicate more land to corn and soybeans, which generate far greater returns.

Lack of hemp processing facilities contributed to crashes in Canada’s nascent hemp industry in 1999 and 2007. Although growing hemp is legal in Canada, Canadian farmers planted more than twenty-five times as much land to flax in 2010. Source: Health Canada

A 1998 study by a University of Kentucky team of economists projected net returns of $120-$340 per acre for hemp production in Kentucky. It didn’t consider flax production, but the Canadian experience suggests that flax could offer similar returns. The authors note that Kentucky-based processing facilities would be needed for farmers to realize profits in the higher end of their projected range. Commissioner Comer wants these to be placed in economically-depressed areas of the state that used to depend on tobacco production. If there really is potential for a low-input, multi-use fiber and oilseed crop, like hemp, then why not experiment with flax? Processing facilities could be built for flax in the near term, and used for hemp, too, should it ever become legal again. The Canadian experience suggests that hemp may not live up to its advocates’ hype, but Kentucky doesn’t have to wait  for the federal DEA to change its tune to re-introduce a similar once-prominent crop… flax.

2 responses so far

2 Responses to “Feds Won’t Let You Grow Hemp? Try Flax.”
  1. # Michael Bomfordon 23 Mar 2012 at 1:55 pm

    After posting my article, I came across a 2010 dissertation by UK doctoral student Watchareewan Jamboonsri that reports results of flax trials near Lexington, Kentucky, in 2006-08 (http://uknowledge.uky.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1120&context=gradschool_diss, chapter 5).

    Two of those years were drought years, and flax yields were very poor. Even in the best year, yield was only 75% of what might be expected in North Dakota or Canada. Jamboonsri concludes that flax is not well suited to Kentucky’s climate.

    So why was flax such an important crop in Kentucky’s history? Did early settlers have varieties that were better adapted to Kentucky’s climate? Or was flax such a useful crop that they grew it here despite its poor performance?

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