FRANKFORT, Ky. -- The latest attempt to pave the way for legal growing
of industrial hemp in Kentucky got under way yesterday, with more
official encouragement than ever.

"There's no question we can successfully raise this product,"
Agriculture Commissioner Billy Ray Smith told the House Agriculture
and Small Business Committee shortly before it approved House Bill
100.

"This is a mainstream issue now," the bill's sponsor, Rep. Joe
Barrows, D-Versailles, told the committee, noting recent endorsements
of hemp research by the Farm Bureau and legislatures of other states
and the "active proselytizing" by former Gov. Louie B. Nunn for the
crop.

The bill would authorize industrial-hemp research at one or more state
universities under permits from the federal government, which
currently makes no distinction between hemp and its hallucinogenic
form, marijuana.

Making a distinction has been the big obstacle to legalization of
industrial hemp. After police objections last year, the House largely
gutted a committee-approved bill that would have set up a regulatory
program for industrial hemp and replaced it with a research bill
similar to the one approved yesterday.

That bill died in the Republican-controlled Senate late in the
legislative session, but Barrows said it would have passed if the
session had lasted two more days. Yesterday, four of the seven
Republican members of the committee voted for the new bill.

"I'm convinced we don't even need to do the study," said Rep. Ken
Upchurch, R-Monticello. "I'm convinced the markets are out there."

Upchurch said industrial hemp could hamper marijuana cultivation,
which he said is heavy in his home Wayne County, by pollinating
marijuana plants and making them less hallucinogenic. "It's high time
we forget about . . . the backlash some fear back home," he said.

Voting against the bill were Democratic Rep. Phillip Childers of
Garner in Knott County and Republican Reps. Sheldon Baugh of
Russellville, Gary Tapp of Shelbyville and Tommy Turner of Somerset.

Turner said afterward that police say they have no way to distinguish
between hemp and marijuana, and "we should respect what they say. I
think we're sending the wrong message to our children."

State and local police and county sheriffs would each have a seat on a
17-member hemp commission to monitor research and make recommendations
for "the proper legal growing, management, use and marketing" of hemp.

Barrows said the research should determine hemp's economic viability
"or whether it's a law-enforcement issue."

The bill has no funding for research but would create a fund that
could receive public and private grants.


Newshawk: agfuture
Pubdate: Fri, 09 Feb 2001
Source: Courier-Journal, The (KY)
Copyright: 2001 The Courier-Journal
Contact: cjletter@louisv02.gannett.com
Address: PO Box 740031, Louisville, Ky., 40201-7431
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Author: Al Cross
Bookmark: http://www.mapinc.org/hemp.htm (Hemp)