McConnell on right path in hemp issue

Published 9:47 am Friday, April 6, 2018

In 2014, we editorialized that we believed it was the right time for hemp to be reintroduced in the state.

Under a provision of that year’s federal farm bill, it was reintroduced for a pilot program to see how well it would do and how productive it could become. The pilot project would also help answer every question a farmer has about hemp, such as what variety of seeds works best in which soil, what’s the optimum date to plant and what type of farm equipment it takes to harvest hemp.

It appears that all of those questions have been answered in a very positive way.

Email newsletter signup

Fast-forward four years and hemp production in Kentucky is booming. In 2014, production of hemp was limited to 33 acres, while this year it is estimated to increase to 12,000 acres. These numbers are certainly proof that hemp has taken hold in our state and that farmers are seeing its value not only for them but for their local and state economies.

It has been proven over and over that hemp can be used for a variety of things such as improving health, counteracting aging skin, health foods, clothing, construction materials, paper, biofuel, plastic composites and much more.

While it’s great that hemp is allowed in our state for pilot projects, we believe now is the time to take hemp off the controlled substance list and to legalize it as an agricultural commodity.

That is why we are 100 percent behind U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, in his efforts to do just that.

Speaking in Frankfort on Monday with Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture Ryan Quarles, McConnell announced the impending introduction of legislation in the U.S. Senate to support Kentucky’s hemp industry. The Hemp Farming Act of 2018 would legalize hemp as an agricultural commodity and remove it from the list of controlled substances.

The Hemp Farming Act of 2018 would help Kentucky enhance its position as the leading state in hemp production. It builds upon the success we have seen through the hemp pilot programs by allowing states to be the primary regulators of hemp, if the U.S. Department of Agriculture approves the implementation plan. This legislation also would remove the federal barriers in place that have stifled the industry, which would help expand the domestic production of hemp. It would also give hemp researchers the chance to apply for competitive federal grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture – allowing them to continue their impressive work with the support of federal research dollars.

“Hemp has played a foundational role in Kentucky’s agricultural heritage, and I believe that it can be an important part of our future,” McConnell said. “I am grateful to join our Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles in this effort. He and his predecessor, Jamie Comer, have been real champions for the research and development of industrial hemp in the commonwealth. The work of Commissioner Quarles here in Kentucky has become a nationwide example for the right way to cultivate hemp. I am proud to stand here with him today, because I believe that we are ready to take the next step and build upon the successes we’ve seen with Kentucky’s hemp pilot program.”

We believe McConnell and Quarles are really onto something here. It is far past time to take hemp off the controlled substance list. It has proven in the past four years that it is a very viable product that has inspired other states to follow our lead in growing it. Taking this off the list of controlled substances as initiated by McConnell through legislation in the Senate is a great way to get this product, which is already booming, to become an increasingly viable cash crop in our state.

The Daily News of Bowling Green