Kentucky's industrial hemp supporters lashed out Thursday against a last-minute amendment to the hemp bill that's been under consideration this year in the General Assembly. State Rep. Rocky Adkins, a Sandy Hook Democrat and the majority floor leader, has proposed an amendment turning the Senate-approve hemp bill into a five year study. It also gives the licensing responsibilities to Kentucky State Police, which argues that legalized hemp would harm law enforcement efforts to target hemp's cousin, marijuana.
Agriculture Commissioner James Comer is the leading proponent of the hemp bill, which establishes a regulatory framework in Kentucky for hemp farming should the federal government ease its restrictions on the plant.
"I think that was the straw that broke the camel's back with the public that are keeping up with this issue, so I think they've heard from the people of Kentucky: don't study this issue," Comer said. "Let's set up the regulatory framework, don't get in the way of creating jobs and helping our farmers."
Members of the Kentucky Hemp Commission were vocal in their objection to Adkins' admendment in a meeting Thursday. They pushed for a vote on the current version of the bill.
Comer said Adkins amendment doesn't have the votes to move forward. And that any other amendments need to help, not hurt, the process of getting a federal waiver to grow hemp.
"And I'm not saying we're not open to any changes. But I will say this to answer your question, we're not gonna support anything that's gonna delay getting the permit. And delay getting the permit would be doing a study," Comer said.
State Sen. Paul Hornback, a Shelbyville Republican and Senate Bill 50's sponsor, said he's planning to meet with Adkins to help resolve any issues.