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Beshear Tells Obama Kentucky To Explore Hemp

Gov. Steve Beshear is calling for the federal government to take a fresh look at whether there's a way to capitalize on the potential economic benefits of industrial hemp without undermining marijuana eradication efforts.

Beshear sent a letter Friday to President Barack Obama, asking that the Office of Drug Control Policy, U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. attorney general's office work with the Drug Enforcement Administration on the issue.

Kentucky lawmakers passed a bill earlier this year that lays the groundwork for hemp farming if the DEA were to lift restrictions on the crop.

Several Kentucky political leaders have been pushing for industrial hemp production, including Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Rand Paul who contend it could be a boon for Kentucky farmers.

McConnell and Paul have been pressing to remove federal restrictions on the domestic production of industrial hemp, which flourished in Kentucky until it was banned decades ago when the federal government classified it as a controlled substance related to marijuana.

In Kentucky, the industrial hemp movement has firmly taken root. Proponents contend lifting the federal ban would give farmers a new crop and would create processing jobs to turn the fiber and seeds into products ranging from paper to biofuels.

Dozens of countries, including Canada, already produce the crop.

Beshear had let the state's hemp bill become law without his signature. The Democratic governor said he wouldn't sign the legislation out of concerns, shared by some in law enforcement, that marijuana growers could camouflage their illegal crops with hemp plants.

Filed under: Kentucky | Politics


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