The Senate Agriculture Committee has approved modifications in Kentucky's industrial hemp research program. Proponents say the measure seeks to better align the state’s effort with federal research exemptions in the farm bill.
Kentucky State Police Major Jeremy Slinker said the legislation emphasizes cooperation between law enforcement and the state Ag department. Slinker said police do find some people trying to use the hemp research program as cover for illegal activities.
“We have had people that we’re confident are illicit marijuana growers that allege what they’re growing is hemp. Now, they’re not licensed and they’re not part of the hemp program, but they just allege that.” Slinker said.
Senate President Robert Stivers admitted in committee it’s taken him some time to get behind the hemp initiative.
“I was not one of the earlier continued supporters of the initiative. But, I do truly believe that, based on the fact that it is here and it is growing, that we need to make sure that it is something that can be appropriately monitored.” Stivers said.
Quarles said as many as 12,000 acres of hemp could be planted this season. That compares to 4000 acres approved for hemp production last year.