Updated: Jan 19, 2019
A provision in the $1.1 Trillion Spending Bill cleared by Congress on December 13, 2014, aimed to prevent a repeat of the standoff that unfolded in Kentucky the previous spring, when U.S. customs officials detained a shipment of imported hemp seeds bound for fields.
"Hopefully it will take the DEA off the trail of hemp seeds," U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., said of the latest hemp provision he championed.
The push to revive hemp has a powerful ally in Kentucky Republican Mitch McConnell. The incoming Senate majority leader crafted the hemp language inserted into the farm bill and pushed for the language to prevent federal agencies from blocking legal hemp projects.
"These legal pilot programs authorized by my legislation could help boost our state's economy and lead to future jobs," McConnell said.
Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer said at least six processors or manufacturers had expressed interest in locating in Kentucky to tap into the re-emerging hemp industry. He said the ban on using federal funds to stymie legal hemp projects would advance the crop. "No one wants to make an investment and no farmer wants to plant a crop with the fear that the Obama administration's going to come in and arrest them or confiscate their crop," said Comer.