HEMP RESEARCH EFFORT IS OFF TO A SLOW START
FRANKFORT -- The latest efforts to study the viability of industrial hemp
are off to another slow start, stymied by bureaucratic delays and running
headlong into a into a federal prohibition.
The Kentucky Industrial Hemp Commission met yesterday, well after the July
1 2001, deadline set by the legislation passed earlier this year that
Although the University of Kentucky has applied to conduct research on the
agronomy of growing hemp, the Department of Agriculture has not even
created the regulations needed to grant a license for the research. Even
then the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) must be asked for a permit
to conduct the research, which it does not have to grant.
David Sparrow of the agriculture department of UK, said it might be overly
optimistic to think the first test plots might be planted in the spring.
"That's a hard question to answer," Sparrow said.
The delays are frustrating but can be overcome, said Andrew Graves,
chairman of the Kentucky Hemp Growers Cooperative Association and a member
of the commission.
Kentucky has a long history of growing hemp, including as recently as World
War II, when cultivation was encouraged as a source of fiber. Supporters
insist the plant is a renewable source of fuel, fiber and oil.
Skeptics argue there are other cheaper, available sources for the same
products, and there is no demonstrated market except as novelty items.
Critics also question whether production would mask the growing of marijuana.
The two plants are virtually identical, except industrial hemp is supposed
to contain only a minuscule amount of the drug that gives marijuana its effect.
Kentucky State Police Col. John Lile said law enforcement concerns involve
differentiating hemp from marijuana. Although supporters say the mature
hemp plants can be recognized as different from a marijuana plant, the
differences are subtle.
Drug enforcement officials have said their position is clear. Federal law
outlaws all forms of the hemp plant. The DEA has thus far issued only one
research permit, to a university in Hawaii. (END)
Pubdate: Tue, 20 Nov 2001
Source: Lexington Herald-Leader (KY)
Copyright: 2001 Lexington Herald-Leader
Author: Mark R. Chellgren
Bookmark: http://www.mapinc.org/hemp.htm (Hemp)