Tuesday, January 29, 2013

UNITE officials disagree with proposed hemp bill

FRANKFORT, Ky.) – Some state officials say industrial hemp could bring jobs to Eastern Kentucky, but not everyone says it is a good idea.

“In Kentucky, we have a desperate need to create jobs. Our farmers need to have new opportunities. Senate Bill 50 will accomplish both of that,” says Agricultural Commissioner James Comer.

If passed, Senate Bill 50 will create a framework for the use of industrial hemp, for if and when it is passed federally.

Comer is spearheading the legislation, and says there is a lot of support for the proposed bill.

However, some law enforcement officials say it could create more problems, since it looks similar to the marijuana plant.

“Of course, all people are going to be saying [all plants seized] is hemp, and all those will have to be sent to the lab for laboratory purposes, and of course, that's going to be a large financial burden on the state police,” said Dan Smoot

Comer addressed the issue Monday at a Commission meeting by saying most officers can tell the difference between the two plants.

“Most of the sheriffs come from farm backgrounds they know the difference between industrial hemp and marijuana,” says Comer.

Some officials say they were not invited to the meeting.

“I nor my state police counterpart major terry were informed of so basically they had the hemp commission meeting today without law enforcement present,” says Smoot.

The bill is expected to be sent to the Senate Agriculture Committee when the General Assembly resumes its regular session next week.