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Published October 13, 2009, 09:33 AM

Kentucky lawmaker pushes industrial hemp farming

A bill from Kentucky Sen. Joey Pendleton would require industrial hemp growers to be licensed by that state's Department of Agriculture.

By: Associated Press, Associated Press

LEXINGTON, Ky. — A Kentucky lawmaker has introduced legislation to legalize industrial hemp as a cash crop and a source for alternative fuels.

Sen. Joey Pendleton, a Democrat from Hopkinsville in southern Kentucky, said the time is right to cash in on hemp, because the plant is already legal for research purposes in Kentucky, along with seven other states, and Congress has legislation before it to decriminalize hemp.

Industrial hemp is used in alternative automobile fuels and in such products as paper, cloths, cosmetics, and carpet. Currently, all hemp included in products sold in the United States must be imported.

Pendleton’s bill, introduced for the 2010 session, would require people wanting to grow or process industrial hemp to be licensed by the state Department of Agriculture.

The legislation would require criminal history checks of growers, and sheriffs would have to monitor and randomly test industrial hemp fields.

The bill also calls for a fee of $150 or $5 for each acre industrial hemp grown — whichever is greater — to be divided equally between the state and appropriate sheriff’s department.

Federal law prohibits American farmers from growing hemp. It is related to the illegal drug marijuana, and under federal law, parts of the plant are considered controlled substances. Proponents have argued that industrial hemp contains too little of the mind-altering chemical THC to make people high.

The Industrial Hemp Farming Act, introduced in Congress in April by Reps. Barney Frank, D-Mass., and Ron Paul, R-Texas, would require the federal government to respect state laws allowing hemp production.

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