Ag commissioner: Sheriff’s support for industrial hemp a big boost to legalization efforts

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Nov. 28, 2012) — Agriculture Commissioner James Comer applauded Christian County Sheriff Livy Leavell Jr. on Wednesday for supporting the production of industrial hemp in Kentucky during the annual conference of the Kentucky Association of Counties in Louisville.

“Sheriff Leavell’s support is a big step for the industrial hemp initiative,” Comer said. “By having a high-ranking member of Kentucky’s law enforcement community on our side, we can more effectively break down any myths that are still attached to this potential crop. I am so grateful to all the local elected officials for their overwhelming support of this effort. Together, we will bring jobs to Kentucky and new opportunities to our farmers.”

Comer was joined in his remarks to KACo by Katie Moyer, chairperson of the Kentucky Hemp Coalition, and John Riley, a former magistrate from Spencer County. Moyer and Riley are members of the Kentucky Industrial Hemp Commission, which is chaired by Comer.

“I am so proud of my hometown sheriff,” Moyer said. “Sheriff Leavell made the effort to get the facts about industrial hemp — what it is, what it isn’t, and how it can benefit Kentucky’s economy.”

Comer told the assembled county judge/executives, magistrates, sheriffs and other county officials that legislation to allow Kentucky farmers to grow industrial hemp will be one of his top legislative priorities in 2013. The Kentucky Industrial Hemp Commission will meet again before the 2013 session of the Kentucky General Assembly to finalize legislation it hopes will pass during the session.

Industrial hemp would create manufacturing jobs in Kentucky, Comer said, and provide farmers with another crop that would help them continue to make a living on the farm. He said it is important for Kentucky to be first in the nation to establish an industrial hemp production and manufacturing industry.

The industrial hemp initiative also continues to make progress on the national level. Recently elected U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie of northern Kentucky on Tuesday became the 36th co-sponsor of federal legislation that would require the federal government to honor state laws allowing production of industrial hemp. U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Bowling Green sponsored a companion bill in the U.S. Senate in August.

Industrial hemp was widely grown in Kentucky until the late 19th century and was re-established briefly in the 1940s to make products for the military. A Congressional Research Service study says hemp is contained in as many as 25,000 products in the global market including textiles, automotive applications, furniture, food products, paper, construction materials and personal care products.

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