Industrial hemp field

Today, Kentucky adopted a new industrial hemp law. The state legislature overwhelmingly approved the bill last month, but Gov. Steve Beshear (D) had been undecided on it. After some consideration Beshear decided to allow the bill to become law without his signature. From Beasher statement:

“I strongly support efforts to create additional legal cash crops for our farm communities. At the same time, we have a tremendous drug problem in Kentucky, and I want to make sure that we don’t do anything that will increase that drug problem. I still share the same concerns our law enforcement officers have about the impact hemp cultivation may have on our drug eradication efforts.

The bottom line is that Senate Bill 50 won’t allow industrial hemp to be grown or sold unless and until the federal government takes the very big step of legalizing the crop in some way. If that happens, we will have time to work with the legislature and law enforcement to make any further changes necessary to ensure the public’s safety and alleviate those concerns.

Therefore, I am allowing SB50 to become law without my signature.”

Several states have approved similar industrial hemp laws but have been stopped from growing it by the federal government. What makes this Kentucky law unique, though, it was backed by both of the state’s Senators, Rand Paul (R) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R).

McConnell is one of the most powerful politicians in Washington right now. If he decides to now throw his weight behind making sure this new Kentucky law is used, he might have the clout needed to change federal policy regarding hemp.

Photo by Gregory Jordan under Creative Commons license