By Linda B. Blackford
A measure to regulate hemp farming in Kentucky might not be dead yet.
House Speaker Greg Stumbo said Tuesday morning that people were working on modifications to Senate Bill 50, which has stalled in the House. A day earlier, Stumbo said the proposal would not get a vote in the House during this year’s legislative session.
Stumbo would not commit to bringing the measure to a vote by the House during the final three days of the 30-day legislative session. He said House Democrats discussed the proposal during a caucus meeting Monday.
“The bill was fairly flawed,” Stumbo said. “People are working on some clean-up language.”
SB 50, sponsored by Republican Sen. Paul Hornback of Shelbyville, would set up a licensing framework for Kentucky farmers to grow hemp if federal restrictions are lifted.
State Rep. Richard Henderson, D-Mount Sterling, has filed two floor amendments to the bill that would require the Kentucky Department of Agriculture and the Kentucky State Police to randomly test industrial hemp for compliance with THC levels. THC is the chemical that gives smokers of marijuana, hemp’s botanical sibling, a high.
Republican Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, who has pushed for the hemp bill, said Tuesday that Henderson’s amendments would cost taxpayers too much money.
“House Speaker Greg Stumbo continues to play games at the expense of the people,” Comer said in a statement. “Why in the world would anyone put two government agencies in charge of the same exact responsibility, especially when the Department of Agriculture has shown that it can perform testing at $20 per test, and state police have stated that it would cost them in excess of $750 per test?”
House Agriculture Chairman Tom McKee, D-Cynthiana, said Tuesday that he thinks the bill might get a vote in the House, but he couldn’t predict when.
“There is genuine interest to make sure we’re not missing out on this,” McKee said. He wasn’t working on any changes to the measure, he said.
The Senate’s version of the bill had broad bipartisan support, including from several members of Kentucky’s congressional delegation, but it was opposed by the Kentucky State Police and other law enforcement agencies.