The Commonwealth is ready to move forward with plans for the first legal production of hemp in at least 50 years. Earlier this year, the State Department of Agriculture announced it was creating pilot projects in growth and production of the plant at six universities.
That plan was made possible by last year’s passage of a bill providing a state regulatory framework and a provision inserted into the federal farm bill.
Agriculture Commissioner James Comer says he has received authorization to move forward from the state’s Attorney General. Comer made the announcement during Thursday's Eastern Standard on WEKU. He said the state's chief law enforcement officer delivered a letter to Comer's office Wednesday, saying the state can market the hemp once it's been harvested.
"We're very optimistic that we can take the steps now, this year, to develop a new industry in Kentucky," said Comer.
The Agriculture Commissioner says the universities will be able to begin growing hemp once his office finalizes regulations.
Dr. John Settimi, chair of Eastern Kentucky University’s Agriculture Department, says one drawback is the availability of seeds since there have been no legal sources in the U.S. for decades.