Pubdate: Sat, 29 Dec 2012
Source: Glasgow Daily Times (KY)
Copyright: 2012 Glasgow Daily Times
Author: Chuck Mason


A crop harvested by the Chinese 8,500 years ago has provoked
contemporary debate. Legalization of industrial hemp is being touted
as a economic shot in the arm for Kentucky and elsewhere in America.
At the same time, industrial hemp is being criticized by law
enforcement as a way to hide illegal marijuana.

Meanwhile, local lawmakers and local law enforcement officials have no
desire to see Kentucky allow medical marijuana, the subject of a
pre-filed bill in the Kentucky General Assembly, which begins Jan. 8,
meets for four days, then comes back into session in February for a
30-day session.

On the federal level, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Bowling Green, is one of
three co-sponsors of U.S. Senate Bill 3501, the Industrial Hemp
Farming Act of 2012, introduced by U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore. The
bill would exempt industrial hemp as a form of marijuana in federal
law, noting "... the term marihuana does not include industrial hemp;
and ... the term 'industrial hemp' means the plant Cannabis sativa L.
and any part of such plant, whether growing or not, with a delta-9
tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a
dry weight basis."

Marijuana is spelled "marihuana" in all federal documents regarding
legislation regulating the leafy plant.

Tetrahydrocannabinol is commonly referred to as THC. It is the
chemical in marijuana that gives users a high.

The federal proposal would further amend Section 201 of the federal
Controlled Substances Act to read: "Industrial Hemp Determination  If
a person grows or processes Cannabis sativa L. for purposes of making
industrial hemp in accordance with State law, the Cannabis sativa L.
shall be deemed to meet with concentration limitation under Section
102 (57)."

A website that tracks federal legislation,, says the
federal proposal only has a 2 percent chance of reaching President
Barack Obama's desk and being enacted as law. It is only given a 12
percent chance of getting out of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee
and reaching the Senate floor. Paul's father, U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of
Texas, previously has introduced similar bills in Congress.

Rand Paul argued in favor of the economic potential for industrial
hemp in a Dec. 15 column in the Lexington HeraldLeader. "My vision for
the farmers and manufacturers of Kentucky is to see us start growing
hemp, creating jobs and leading the nation in this industry again."
Paul wrote. "These jobs will be ripe for the taking, and I want
farmers in Kentucky to be the first in line."

Kentucky and hemp are no strangers. The crop flourished in the
Bluegrass state before it was lumped into federal legislation against
marijuana in 1937. Hemp production essentially died out in the 1950s.
The federal Controlled Substances Act of 1970 didn't make growing hemp
illegal, but it did make it illegal to grow without a permit from the
federal Drug Enforcement Administration, noted Renee Johnson,
specialist in agriculture policy for the Congressional Research
Service, in a report prepared in January for the U.S. Congress.

The report to Congress noted that the DEA issued a permit for an
experimental quarter-acre plot in Hawaii in 1999, which is now expired.

"Most reports indicate that the DEA has not granted any current
licenses to grow hemp, even for research purposes. To date, all
commercial hemp products sold in the United States are imported or
manufactured from imported hemp materials," the January report to
Congress noted.

Several bills introduced in the Kentucky General Assembly since 2001
have died, according to a report "Industrial Hemp  Legal Issues," from
the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service and its Crop
Diversification & Biofuel Research Education Center.

A bill approved in June 2001 created an industrial hemp research
program and provided for Kentucky adopting the federal rules and
regulations regarding industrial hemp  so any changes in federal law
automatically take effect in Kentucky, the UK report noted. That bill
also created the Kentucky Industrial Hemp Commission, which was
recently reactivated after a decade by State Agriculture Commissioner
James Comer. The commission met Dec. 7 in Frankfort.

Officials say industrial hemp and pot look the same but when their
chemical composition is tested, pot has a much higher concentration of
THC. That troubles Tommy Loving, director of the Bowling Green-Warren
County Drug Task Force. He expects a tough fight beginning in January
to stop state legislation regarding industrial hemp growth and regulation.

A pre-filed bill in Frankfort on the legislative website about
industrial hemp is sponsored by State Rep. Terry Mills, DLebanon.

Mills said if the federal legislation isn't approved, his bill  even
if approved by the General Assembly and signed by Gov. Steve Beshear
into law  is still out of compliance with federal law.

"I don't support moving forward until we get federal legislation in
place," Mills said.

"It's moot until the federal government makes a decision," said state
Rep. Jody Richards, D-Bowling Green.

The 24th District that Mills serves in the state House is an agrarian
area and could use a shot in the arm economically, he said.

"There is too much potential for us to ignore this opportunity," Mills

"I'm not opposed to it," said state Rep. Jim DeCesare, RBowling Green.
"It is a good alternative crop for the ag community." The lawmaker
said many people equate industrial hemp with marijuana.

"They are not the same," he said. "It is going to take an education
effort" to gain support for the bill's passage in the state House.

Opposition to the state legislation comes from the Kentucky Narcotic
Officers' Association, which met last month in Louisville and voted
unanimously to oppose legalization of industrial hemp in Kentucky,
said Loving, who also is the east central regional director of the
National Narcotic Officers' Association Coalition. Other law
enforcement groups, including the Kentucky Association of Chiefs of
Police and the Kentucky Sheriff 's Association, are opposed to the
bill, Loving said.

"We're concerned about the apparent rush to legalize industrial hemp
in Kentucky," said Van Ingram, executive director of the Kentucky
Office of Drug Control Policy. "Passing this law violates federal
law," Ingram said. Identifying the THC content amount, the key to
separating the two, puts extra work on an "already overburdened law
enforcement system," he said. The quantitative THC test can only be
performed by a Kentucky State Police laboratory, he said. "What's the
impact on equipment and personnel  who's going to pay for it?" Ingram

Ingram said he's also concerned with illicit marijuana growers trying
to pass their crops off as industrial hemp. Finally, he said marijuana
doesn't cease to be psychoactive at 0.3 percent, the THC content of
industrial hemp.

Concerning another legislative proposal, Loving, DeCesare, Richards
and Ingram all voiced disapproval of any state legislative attempt to
bring medical marijuana to Kentucky.

A pre-filed bill concerning permitting medical marijuana is sponsored
by state Sen. Perry B. Clark, D-Louisville.

The medical marijuana bill calls for "compassion centers" being issued
certificates from the state. Those using marijuana for medical
purposes would be permitted six ounces of marijuana and 12 marijuana
plants. The medical marijuana would be used to aid in treatment of
debilitating medical conditions. Those named in the legislation are
cancer, glaucoma, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus,
acquired immune deficiency syndrome, hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral
sclerosis, Crohn's disease, agitation of Alzheimer's disease,
post-traumatic stress disorder and characteristics of multiple sclerosis.

"There are physical liabilities to long-term use of marijuana,"
Richards said. Ingram said the idea of bringing medical marijuana use
to Kentucky is "wellintentioned," but he's concerned with who will
actually use it. It has been documented in California that people
under the age of 35 are using it to combat headaches and other minor
health ailments, Richards said. 
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