Beshear sides with law enforcement against hemp

By Roger Alford/Associated Press, Published:

(AP) — Citing Kentucky's struggles with drug abuse, Gov. Steve Beshear called Tuesday for lawmakers to be cautious about a push to grow industrial hemp in Kentucky.

"I want them to resolve any law enforcement concerns before moving ahead," Beshear told reporters on Tuesday.

Kentucky State Police and other law enforcement agencies have said hemp fields would be ideal places for marijuana growers to hide their illegal crops, given that the leaves of the plants are identical.

Kentucky Republican leaders have been pushing legislation to license and regulate hemp so that it could be grown if the federal government were to lift a longstanding ban.

Beshear is only the latest state Democratic leader to voice concerns about an industrial hemp bill that passed the Republican-led Senate last week. House Speaker Greg Stumbo did the same last week.

Stumbo and other lawmakers from the state's mountain region, where most of Kentucky's illegal marijuana crop is grown, have been especially skeptical of the hemp proposal.

Kentucky has an ideal climate for hemp production and, during World War II, was a leading grower of the plant that produces strong fibers that were used in fabrics, ropes and other materials for the military. A growing number of political leaders have been calling for federal restrictions to be lifted, including Republican Agriculture Commissioner James Comer.

Comer said lifting the ban on hemp would give Kentucky farmers another viable crop and would create processing and manufacturing jobs with companies that would turn the plant into a variety of products, including paper, clothing, auto parts, biofuels, food and lotions.

Stumbo said Comer hasn't produced any evidence to support his contention about jobs.

Republican U.S. Sens. Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul introduced legislation last week that would remove hemp from the list of controlled substances under federal law. The issue has Democratic supporters in Kentucky, including U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth of Louisville, a co-sponsor on legislation in the U.S. House seeking to allow commercial hemp production.

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  • I think that this is the first time that McConnell out leftied Beshear on anything...boy, you sure can tell ol' Mitch is running for office next year and going for the Tea Party vote.

  • I’ll state it again. Just as food processors and other manufacturing operations are heavily regulated so will hemp growing. Ever been to a meat or chicken processing plant? Or a facility that makes pizzas or White Castle burgers? As you pull up to park at these facilities, you’ll see (at most) a reserved parking place for regulatory agencies. That’s the same thing I would do if I was to start an industrial hemp operation but I’d add one or two more reserve spots for law enforcement officials. Even prior to my hemp factory is operational; I will invite law enforcement officials over for coffee and doughnuts so we can meet to discuss my business plan. Once operational, I will invite the local and regional media to tour my business so that I can get positive press. I will show them facts like how many full time with benefits employees I have. Will show them how much I expect to pay in local and state taxes and what that means to the local economy. I will also invite the local and state officials. I’ll be damned if I’ll let unfounded, false, ridiculous comments about my operation by any elected or law enforcement officials go without a strong rebuttal. I will have nothing to hide. I’ll give educational tours for school kids. Voters who support industrial hemp need to form a political pack. Raise money and support candidates who support industrial hemp. In time we’ll squeeze out closed minded politicians and law enforcement officials.

  • The Krogers here in Shelbyville is selling bulk hulled hemp seeds for nearly $18 a lb. right now, next to their nuts, flours and seeds.

  • Sad that we can make soap and dashboards out of it and not medicine. It seems no amount of science or logic or common sense will break through 75 years of Government propaganda about marijuana. First they said your children will kill you with an axe if they use it and now they just say it's bad for you without any science to back it up! Talk about a FAILURE of leadership. Our leaders know they can legalize marijuana in all three forms right now if they wanted to, they just do not have the political cohonies to do it. In a word they are CHICKEN!!!!!

  • There is no resolution to the KSP's concerns about industrial hemp other than to prohibit KY farmers from growing it and industrialists/commerce from reaping the profits of an already established product that is already being sold in many forms in this state and around the world. That ain't never gonna happen and the Gov. and Stumbo knows it. No surprises there, although it is shocking that they believe that Marijuana has ANYTHING to do with KY's "horrible drug problem". Yeah, they are right that KY does have a horrible drug problem and the carnage from tobacco and alcohol abuse illustrates that perfectly. Everything else, not so much. Marijuana, not at ALL. .............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................. Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, and excessive alcohol use the 3rd leading lifestyle-related cause of death for the nation. I would expect that our Governor and House Speaker Stumbo to be in much better command of the facts than that, especially since they are passing laws that put people in jail for violating them. It looks like this bill is going nowhere based on myths and ignorance of the science...par for the course in KY!

  • Industrial hemp is not marijuana that people smoke. Both are simply natural plants and neither has negative side effects. I hope Beshear ends his political career after his current stint as governor. I'll never vote for him again and I'm a yellow-dog democrat. I applaud Ag Commissioner Comer and the KY Senate for their forward thinking on industrial hemp growing in KY.

  • not surprising coming from beshear. beshear is all about using coal excise taxes to hide shortfalls in kentucky's budget. rather than modernizing the tax code, kentucky would lose federal dollars used in the 'war on drugs', further exposing the executive and legislative branches' incompetence in making real economic decisions. law enforcement's reservations regarding hemp are completely baseless. unless, of course, you take into account their dependence on the federal welfare gravy train.

  • marijuana..oh gosh!! how horrible!! lol.

  • 1713's comment on how much of an "idiot" he is, followed by an article copied from a website about how wonderful pot is in 3... 2... 1...

  • "Horrible drug problem"? Whose words were those, the AP's?