Mention hemp and it will likely evoke images of long-haired hippies in sandals banging drums and burning incense. But more likely than not, you will find today’s major players in the full-court press to legalize industrial hemp wearing suits and ties, not tie-dye T-shirts.
In fact, the coalition driving the hemp movement in Kentucky features prominent business leaders, farmers and political figures, including state Agriculture Commissioner James Comer.
Comer began pushing for legalization within a month of taking office in 2011. His efforts paid off when the Kentucky legislature passed SB50 last March. The law legalizes industrial hemp farming in the Bluegrass State, but the federal government must first lift its ban before farmers can begin planting the crop.
“I have long believed that industrial hemp had great potential as a profitable crop for Kentucky farmers. Hemp is used to produce paper, clothing, cosmetics, construction materials, automobile parts, foods, and thousands of other products. We know that hemp grows well in Kentucky and elsewhere in the U.S.,” Comer said. “Kentucky was the leading hemp-producing state in the mid-19th century, and we ramped production up to record levels for the war effort in the 1940s. We should be growing hemp, and making hemp products in Kentucky and the United States. I will do everything in my power to make hemp legalization a reality.”
In fact, a recent Department of Justice memo declaring it will not challenge marijuana legalization in Washington and Colorado could pave the way for hemp production in Kentucky, although Attorney General Jack Conway disagrees with that assessment.
A February 1938 article in Popular Mechanics dubbed industrial hemp the “New Billion-Dollar Crop. “ After years of declining production, the magazine predicted a renaissance with the invention of a machine that removed the fiber-bearing cortex from the stalk, opening the door for low cost production of products ranging from rope to paper.Details