Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer is continuing a push for the reclassification of industrial hemp from a Schedule I drug to a legal crop. He told members of the Lexington Forum Thursday that state Senator Paul Hornback will file an industrial hemp bill next week in time for the upcoming legislative session. Comer has spent the past several months trying to convince law enforcement officials that industrial hemp will not lead to an increase in marijuana growth, but he says the decision ultimately rests with General Assembly.
“Whether they support it or not, the legislators are the lawmakers," Comer said. "They’re the ones that make the laws and the state police will abide by the law. So I wish everybody was on board, but at the end of the day my job as Ag Commissioner is to help farmers and to create jobs in rural communities. And this bill will do that and hopefully we can get it passed.”
Comer says the bill will detail how the Department of Agriculture would regulate the growing of hemp. An economic impact study conducted by the University of Kentucky on the crop’s market potential is expected to be ready in early February. If the measure passes the Kentucky legislature, Comer says he will next focus on getting industrial hemp reclassified at the federal level.
Representative Terry Mills has already pre-filed an industrial hemp measure in the state House, but Comer says the new bill will more clearly define the regulatory role of the Department of Agriculture.
“This is an industry that will begin from scratch so we want to make sure that all of our I’s and all of our T’s are crossed,” Mills said.
Comer has spent the past several months voicing support for industrial hemp, currently classified as a Schedule I drug. He’ll meet with state senators on Friday to discuss the bill with hopes of passage by the full General Assembly during the legislative session that starts on Tuesday.