Lawmakers promote hemp as cash crop in Kentucky Associated Press

 

 

 

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Lawmakers have grown bolder in their push to allow farmers to grow hemp in Kentucky, a Bible-belt state where the issue was once considered politically taboo.

Growing hemp is illegal under federal law, but supporters want to lift the state ban with hopes of Kentucky becoming a leading grower of the versatile crop if the federal ban is lifted.

The House Agriculture and Small Business Committee held a hearing Wednesday on two bills pending in the state Legislature. Neither bill was called for a vote.

Most Kentucky political leaders have dismissed the issue in the past because of fears that voters might somehow conclude that they’re also pro-marijuana. But the issue was a centerpiece in last year’s race for agriculture commissioner, which was won decisively by Jamie Comer, a hemp proponent.

Comer said growing industrial hemp would allow expansion of Kentucky farm markets and create jobs in rural communities.

Industrial hemp, a cousin to marijuana, is used to make fuel, cattle feed, textiles, paper, lotion, cosmetics and other products. Though it contains trace amounts of the mind-altering chemical tetrahydrocannabinol that makes marijuana intoxicating, it remains illegal in the U.S.

Ed Shemelya, regional marijuana coordinator in the Appalachian High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, said police continue to oppose legalization of hemp because there’s no way to visually distinguish it from marijuana.

“It’s an enforcement nightmare,” Shemelya said.

State Rep. Keith Hall, D-Phelps, said he believes people are beginning to realize the potential economic value of hemp and that is allowing political leaders to feel more comfortable in promoting it.

“I would say today that the issue is fear, and the great President Roosevelt said ‘what do we have to fear but fear itself,”’ Hall said.

Hall said people might think it odd that “a Bible-read man” would speak in favor of allowing Kentucky farmers to grow hemp.

“They’re saying the best Bibles are made with hemp paper over in France, because they don’t yellow; they don’t tear; they don’t tarnish,” he said.

Sen. Joey Pendleton, D-Hopkinsville, said he expects the federal government will lift the ban on hemp production in the future, and that he wants Kentucky to be ready to plant the crop as soon as that happens.

Kentucky has an ideal climate for hemp production and during World War II it was a leading grower of the plant that produces strong fibers used in fabrics, ropes and other materials for the military.

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Hemp could make a comeback

By Kevin Wheatley

about 23 hours ago

Industrial hemp could make a comeback as one of Kentucky’s top cash crops if lawmakers legalize the harvest of marijuana’s botanical cousin, legislators have told a House committee.

The Agricultural and Small Business Committee on Wednesday heard from key sponsors of two pieces of legislation –House bills 272 and 286 – that would make hemp a legal crop if the federal government lifts restrictions on it.

The bills didn’t come to a vote, but Rep. Tom McKee, a Cynthiana Democrat and the committee’s chairman, said the discussion would continue so both sides of the argument could be heard.

Sponsors spoke for about 30 minutes, highlighting primarily the many legal products produced by industrial hemp, such as textiles, paper, auto plastics, rope, construction material, cosmetics and feed for cattle.

The trickle-down effect would create 17,000 jobs and result in an economic impact between $400 million and $500 million, said Sen. Joey Pendleton, D-Hopkinsville, quoting a University of Kentucky survey from years ago.

“We’re sitting on the cutting edge and, to me, on a gold mine here of what we can do in the Commonwealth of Kentucky to create jobs and to give our agriculture people another opportunity to grow something,” he said.

Eighty-five percent of industrial hemp produced in Canada is shipped to the U.S., and China sends a large amount here as well, Pendleton added.

He also noted that Kentucky has an ideal climate and was a top hemp producer prior to and during World War II until the federal government banned it amid political pressure from nylon and paper manufacturers in the 1950s.

While there’s concern that hemp would be confused with marijuana, Pendleton said the two plants can be distinguished easily and cross-pollination between the two plants decreases tetrahydrocannabinol, the active ingredient in marijuana.

However, Ed Shemelya, regional marijuana coordinator in the Appalachian High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, disagreed and said police continue to oppose legalization of hemp because there’s no way to visually distinguish it from marijuana.

“It’s an enforcement nightmare,” Shemelya said after the meeting.

Rep. Keith Hall, D-Phelps, said hemp oil could be explored as an alternative fuel source. He noted that Henry Ford built his first automobile using hemp products and ran it on hemp diesel fuel.

Bio-diesel fuel produced from hemp emits no sulfur when it’s used, making it the only fuel that passes the Environment Protection Agency’s Clear Air Act, Hall said.

Hemp plants could also be used on mine reclamation sites as they soak up contaminants, he said.

Legislators have been hesitant to consider legalizing hemp with its link to marijuana, but Hall said the potential economic impact has thawed some, but not all, concerns.

“I would say today that the issue is fear,” Hall told the panel.

Rep. Terry Mills, D-Lebanon, said 66 percent of his constituents support legalizing industrial hemp.

“… The ag economy is the best its been in 40 years, and we’re seeing that in grain and cattle prices, but we always need diversity in agriculture,” Mills said.

“If this can be developed as a viable crop in agriculture, it can only help the agriculture community and, again, those people who live out in rural Kentucky.”

It’s unclear how much support the bills have on the House committee, but two members –Rep. Fred Nesler, D-Mayfield, and Rep. Johnny Bell, D-Glasgow –commended sponsors for speaking about the issue.

“I look forward to future discussion,” Nesler said. “I hope we don’t just drag this issue like sometimes we do. This is an issue that almost seems too sensible.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Federal Aid Programs Being Made Available for Kentucky Residents During Current Disaster posted by Alex Ferreras on March 7, 2012

(Source: FEMA) – Following is a summary of key federal disaster aid programs that can be made available as needed and warranted under President Obama’s major disaster declaration issued for Kentucky.

Assistance for Affected Individuals and Families Can Include as Required:

Rental payments for temporary housing for those whose homes are unlivable.  Initial assistance may be provided for up to three months for homeowners and at least one month for renters.  Assistance may be extended if requested after the initial period based on a review of individual applicant requirements.  (Source: FEMA funded and administered.)
Grants for home repairs and replacement of essential household items not covered by insurance to make damaged dwellings safe, sanitary and functional.  (Source: FEMA funded and administered.)
Grants to replace personal property and help meet medical, dental, funeral, transportation and other serious disaster-related needs not covered by insurance or other federal, state and charitable aid programs.   (Source: FEMA funded at 75 percent of total eligible costs; 25 percent funded by the commonwealth.)
Unemployment payments up to 26 weeks for workers who temporarily lost jobs because of the disaster and who do not qualify for state benefits, such as self-employed individuals.  (Source: FEMA funded; commonwealth administered.)
Low-interest loans to cover residential losses not fully compensated by insurance.  Loans available up to $200,000 for primary residence; $40,000 for personal property, including renter losses.  Loans available up to $2 million for business property losses not fully compensated by insurance.  (Source: U.S. Small Business Administration.)
Loans up to $2 million for small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives and most private, non-profit organizations of all sizes that have suffered disaster-related cash flow problems and need funds for working capital to recover from the disaster’s adverse economic impact.  This loan in combination with a property loss loan cannot exceed a total of $2 million. (Source: U.S. Small Business Administration.)
Loans up to $500,000 for farmers, ranchers and aquaculture operators to cover production and property losses, excluding primary residence.  (Source: Farm Service Agency, U.S. Dept. of Agriculture.)
Other relief programs: Crisis counseling for those traumatized by the disaster; income tax assistance for filing casualty losses; advisory assistance for legal, veterans benefits and social security matters.

How to Apply for Assistance:

Those in the county designated for assistance to affected residents and business owners can begin the disaster application process by registering online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362). Disaster assistance applicants, who have a speech disability or hearing loss and use TTY, should call 1-800-462-7585 directly; for those who use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 1-800-621-3362.

The toll-free telephone numbers are available from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. (local time) Monday through Sunday until further notice.  Applicants registering for aid should be prepared to provide basic information about themselves (name, permanent address, phone number), insurance coverage and any other information to help substantiate losses.

FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

Follow FEMA online at blog.fema.gov, www.twitter.com/fema, www.facebook.com/fema, and www.youtube.com/fema.  Also, follow Administrator Craig Fugate’s activities at www.twitter.com/craigatfema.  The social media links provided are for reference only. FEMA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies or applications.

Source: FEMA

USMJParty Endorses NM Gov. Gary Johnson for President 2012

USMJParty Endorses NM Gov. Gary Johnson for President 2012

We the undersigned members of The US Marijuana Party hereby endorses candidates Former NM Governor Gary Johnson and Former Federal Judge James Gray for President and Vice President of the United States of America. Both candidates have shown to uphold the ideals of the US Marijuana Party’s Mission Statement, to wit:
“WE seeks to remove all penalties for adults 18 and over who choose to consume cannabis in a responsible manner.”
“We demand an end to the war on productive and otherwise law abiding citizens by the powers that be who claim to protect us.”
“We demand the right to use any medication our healthcare providers and we deem fit without government interference.”
“We demand the release of all people imprisoned on marijuana charges and that their criminal records be expunged.”
“We demand that all property seized in marijuana raids be returned to the rightful owners at once.”
“We demand that our law enforcement officers make more efficient use of our tax dollars and use the resources they have at their disposal to go after violent criminals and crimes that actually have victims.”
“We demand the right to grow marijuana for personal consumption, just as alcohol can be brewed at home legally so long as it is not sold untaxed.”
“We demand that you stop treating us like second class citizens for consuming something that is less dangerous than alcohol and tobacco, both of which are legal and cause numerous deaths each year. Cannabis has never caused one.”
Although our demands seem singular many of the social ills in American can be tied to the drug war and/or the war on a plant (cannabis). The cost of enforcement of cannabis laws, the cost of housing prisoners, subsequent welfare for the unemployable drug felons, the costs of the probate system of removing children from their homes, and the break up of the American family to name a few.
It is time for a turnover in American government let it start with Gary Johnson & Jim Gray as the leaders in the next White House administration.
Peace, Pot, Politics,
Wayward Bill Chengelis,
Chairman, US Marijuana Party &
Chairman, US Marijuana Party of Colorado
Richard J. Rawlings, Chairman, Illinois
Sheree Krider, Chairwoman, Kentucky
Jeffrey Kabik, Chairman, Maryland
Tom Johnson, Chairman, Pennsylvania
Nick Apuzzo, Chairman, California
The US Marijuana Party is thrilled to announce the formation of two new state chapters, California and Pennsylvania. Congratulation are in order for Nick Apuzzo (CA) and Tom Johnson (PA).
Like the fabled Phoenix the US Marijuana Party is rising from the ashes. It is our intent to have a chapter in every state in the United States by January 1, 2013.