By Jack Brammer
FRANKFORT – Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Paul Hornback, R-Shelbyville, said his panel will vote Monday on his industrial hemp bill after it hears from U.S. Sen. Rand Paul and U.S. Reps. John Yarmuth and Thomas Massie.
Senate Bill 50 would license farmers to grow industrial hemp under Kentucky Department of Agriculture regulations if federal restrictions are lifted.
Hemp cultivation is now banned because it is classified with marijuana, although hemp has extremely low levels of the active drug THC.
Paul, R-Bowling Green, has filed federal legislation to differentiate between hemp and marijuana, and he and Yarmuth, D-Louisville, plan to lobby Washington for a waiver for Kentucky to grow hemp if the regulatory legislation passes. Massie, R-Garrison, also supports the move.
U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Louisville, has endorsed efforts in Kentucky to legalize industrial hemp, but U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Somerset, has said he is concerned about law-enforcement officials’ opposition to it and whether there is a market for the crop.
Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, said Friday he does not know what the vote count in the full Senate is for the bill.
House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, has said the issue needs more study. His stance has moved some senators to ask whether the Senate should vote on Hornback’s bill.
Hornback’s committee is to meet at 11 a.m. Monday in room 171 of the Capitol Annex.