The bill cleared the legislative body on a 31-6 vote as supporters, including US Senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul, promoted its ability to diversify Kentucky farms.
The bill would license industrial hemp growers, provided the crop gets a federal reprieve, notes Yahoo! News.
Supporters have agreed that industrial hemp farming would help create processing and manufacturing jobs to turn the plant into paper, clothing, auto parts, biofuels, food, and lotions.
Unlike the cannabis plant, industrial hemp has little to no THC, meaning that the plant is, in essence, not a drug. Senator Paul Hornback, a tobacco farmer who was the lead sponsor on the bill, stated he recently heard from two companies who would want to capitalize on a hemp comeback in Kentucky.
Bloomberg notes that the hemp bill will now go before the House, though its prospects there are less certain. House Speaker Greg Stumbo commented, “I think it’ll have a little tougher time here.”
Stumbo added that the bill faces tough discussion. He believes supporters of industrial hemp have not yet been able to prove there is a viable market for the crop in Kentucky. He added:
“It’s not that we’re saying ‘no.’ We’re simply saying that the evidence doesn’t show that there’s enough of a market to override the concerns that the law enforcement community has.”
Skeptics in law enforcement have said that industrial hemp is difficult to distinguish from cannabis. Because of this, they believe marijuana growers will infiltrate hemp fields to grow the drug.
Would you support the industrial hemp bill that passed the Kentucky Senate?
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