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2000 | Kentucky Supreme Court rules "there is no distinction between hemp and marijuana"

Updated: Jan 19, 2019

The Kentucky Supreme Court ruled on March 23, 2000 that there was no difference between hemp and marijuana, and reinstated misdemeanor charges against Harrelson. Woody Harrelson is now forced to face marijuana possession charges, once again, after failing to get the state supreme court to distinguish between industrial hemp and marijuana.

Harrelson planted four industrial hemp seeds in a Lee County field in June 1996, and had been cited by state officials for marijuana possession. Harrelson argued that the statute outlawing marijuana possession was unconstitutional because it does not clarify or differentiate between marijuana and industrial hemp. The Lee County Court dismissed the charge, finding the state law criminalizing marijuana was overly broad by including industrial hemp.

However, this dismissal was appealed by the government and the state court of appeals in a purely procedural ruling. The government then appealed to the state supreme court.

The final reports claimed that "the legislature's power to regulate a particular article under its police power rests on the presence, in whatever concentration, of a harmful substance. As hemp contains a quantity of THC, and Mr. Harrelson did not overcome the statute's presumption of constitutionality and prove that THC is harmless, the state may validly prohibit its possession. Accordingly, I would reverse the decisions of the Court of Appeals, the circuit court, and the district court and remand this matter to the district court for further proceedings consistent with this opinion."

Click the links below to learn more about the Harrelson and Cockrel trials:



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