Lawsuit over Hemp Seeds Heard Today

May 16, 2014

Credit Barbetorte, Wikimedia Commons

Kentucky’s Agriculture Commissioner says he’s looking forward to a court hearing today over his department’s lawsuit against the federal government. James Comer sued three government agencies—including the U.S. Justice Department—over a 250 pound shipment of hemp seeds being held by federal customs officials in Louisville.

Language in the latest federal Farm Bill allows certain states that adopt a regulatory framework to plant hemp for the first time in decades. But Comer says federal agents in Louisville have continued to come up with reasons why the latest hemp shipment must be held. The Commissioner said a hearing is set for noon today before a federal judge in Louisville.

“We believe that it’s a good sign that we’re going to be in front of a judge this soon—within 24 hours after filing a motion,” Comer said. “Hopefully we can get the seeds, because these seeds are going to the University of Kentucky.”

Comer says all the state’s legal fees are being paid by private money given to a fund overseen by the Kentucky Industrial Hemp Commission. The two biggest donors to the fund are David Bronner, the CEO of a company that sells hemp soap and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul’s political action committee.

“[Bronner] imports an enormous amount of hemp every year from Canada, and it’s frustrating because he wants to be able to say his product is 100% made in America,” Comer said. “So, he’s donated a lot, as has Rand Paul through his ‘Rand Pac’.”

Federal officials have so far not commented on why the hemp shipment is being held.