Industrial hemp issue needs further study, Stumbo says

vhoneycutt@herald-leader.comFebruary 2, 2013 

Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, is speaker of the Kentucky House.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, said Saturday that legislation that would license Kentucky farmers to grow industrial hemp if federal restrictions are lifted needs further study.

House Agriculture and Small Business Committee Chairman Tom McKee, D-Cynthiana, wants to evaluate the issue to make sure there's a market for industrial hemp, Stumbo said.

"Everybody is saying, 'Well this is going to be a great thing for Kentucky farmers,' but nobody has produced any evidence that would verify that," Stumbo said.

State Rep. Terry Mills, D-Lebanon, the sponsor of House Bill 33 which would require industrial hemp growers to be licensed, said Saturday that he wanted Kentucky to move forward on the issue, but he also wants to reach a consensus with law enforcement and others with concerns. He said he would support one more year of study.

Senate Agriculture Chairman Paul Hornback, R-Shelbyville, whose Senate Bill 50 is similar to House Bill 33, said Saturday he thought his bill would be approved by his committee.

Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer said a licensing bill should not be delayed, because the legalization of industrial hemp will create jobs. "All we are asking is that big government get out of the way and let private sector jobs be created. We don't need to delay it another year," Comer said.

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