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Supporters Of The Crop Say New Law May Help Kentucky Growers

A bill passed by the Illinois General Assembly could help open the door for industrial hemp to be grown in this state, some lawmakers believe.

The Illinois Hemp Act which would require the University of Illinois and Southern Illinois University to study the feasibility and desirability of industrial hemp production was approved 67-47 Tuesday by the Illinois legislature.

"That will help our cause. That's a shot in the arm." said Rep. Roger Thomas, D-Smiths Grove.

Thomas and Joe Barrows, D-Versailles, introduced hemp legislation House Bill 100 in Kentucky's General Assembly last week.

Unlike the Illinois bill, House Bill 100 stipulates the Council of Postsecondary Education can select any Kentucky university with an agriculture program to research the use of industrial hemp.

The bill also sets up a commission composed of members of the General Assembly, law enforcement community, the president of the Kentucky Hemp Growers Association and industrial hemp retailers to study information and monitor development of industrial hemp production in other states. If passed, the commission is to report its findings to the General Assembly on Dec. 15.

"We currently have folks marketing industrial hemp products in Kentucky," Thomas said. "We're basically doing everything except processing and growing industrial hemp."

North Dakota and Hawaii are already growing hemp for research, Thomas said.

House Bill 100 should be voted on five to 10 days after the General Assembly reconvenes Feb. 6, according to Barrows.

"Any time another state passes legislation that has anything to do with the industrial hemp issue, in a positive way, helps us say, 'Look, we're not out here by ourselves,' " he said. "This is not something wild and crazy. This is getting legitimate debate and consideration in other areas of the country."

Kentucky farmers should have the option to grow industrial hemp, Barrows said.

"At the time people started growing soybeans there was only one or two uses for soybeans," he said. "Once people got in really good research about all the available use for soybeans, they found thousands of uses for soybeans. I don't think we've scratched the surface for the use of hemp fiber and hemp oils.

"No one thing is going to be a magic cure for Kentucky farmers, but given the status of tobacco, this is another option."

Barrows said it is encouraging the Illinois legislation passed with a Republican majority.

"This is important because it shows this is not a liberal or conservative issue," he said. "This is a farm issue and an agriculture issue."

Even if House Bill 100 passes, Kentucky will still have several hurdles to jump before Kentucky farmers will have the option to grow industrial hemp, Thomas said.

"The Drug Enforcement Agency will have to soften (its) stance on it before we can allow our farmers to grow it," he said.

Newshawk: agfuture
Pubdate: Fri, 12 Jan 2001
Source: Daily News (KY)
Copyright: 2001 News Publishing LLC
Contact: editor@bgdailynews.com
Address: 813 College St., Bowling Green, KY 42101
Fax: (270) 783-3237
Website: bgdailynews.com | Southcentral Kentucky's #1 Source for News
Forum: http://bgdailynews.community.everyone.net/
Author: Mitchell Plumlee
Bookmark: MAP: Hemp (Hemp)
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