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Kentucky House Passes Resolution Asking Congress To Redefine Hemp, Avoid “Hot Hemp”


  The Kentucky House of Representatives wants Congress to change the federal definition of hemp.



Farmers grew 92 percent of Kentucky’s hemp harvest last year for CBD. It’s a popular compound users claim has medicinal benefits. CBD-rich hemp also has low levels of the intoxicating compound THC, often found in higher levels in marijuana. 


The federal farm bill currently defines hemp as having below 0.3 percent of THC. If the levels are higher, then the government can classify the crop as illegal marijuana and force farmers to destroy the crop.

State Representative Richard Heath of Graves County sponsored a resolution that asks Congress to redefine hemp so that the THC limit is higher, at one percent. The resolution received near unanimous support in a vote Tuesday.

“The Kentucky Department of Agriculture has to come out and test the hemp [for THC] before the farmer harvests,” Heath said. “If we can raise it from 0.3 to 1.0, do you see how much leeway we’ve given the farmers, so that they can harvest the crop and sell it and not have to destroy it.”

Cases of “hot hemp” — in which levels of THC spike above the legal limit, resulting in the crop being destroyed — have been documented across the country. Kentucky State University Assistant Professor of Organic Agriculture Shawn Lucas said the high levels of THC in marijuana, 10 to 25 percent THC, doesn’t equate with the low levels of THC in hemp. Because of that, raising the THC limit for hemp wouldn’t put a user at risk of becoming intoxicated.

“One percent is a lot less than that,” Lucas said. “So, to give growers more flexibility and make the test a little more appropriate, more scientifically appropriate in my opinion as a scientist, it makes sense to raise it to one percent.” 

The resolution does not have the enforcement of law. The resolution goes to a state Senate committee for consideration.


"Liam Niemeyer is a reporter for the Ohio Valley Resource covering agriculture and infrastructure in Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia and also serves Assistant News Director at WKMS. He has reported for public radio stations across the country from Appalachia to Alaska, most recently as a reporter for WOUB Public Media in Athens, Ohio. He is a recent alumnus of Ohio University and enjoys playing tenor saxophone in various jazz groups."
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