Pubdate: Fri, 08 Sep 2017
Source: Lexington Herald-Leader (KY)
Copyright: 2017 Lexington Herald-Leader
Author: Bill Estep


He was licensed to grow hemp in Kentucky. Police say they found
marijuana instead.

Kentucky officials are reviewing a case that could result in a former
sheriff being kicked out of the state's pilot program to grow
industrial hemp after he was charged with cultivating marijuana.

Former Jackson County Sheriff Denny Peyman is thought to the first
participant in the hemp program to be arrested for allegedly growing
marijuana, hemp's psychoactive cousin.

Peyman has been approved to grow hemp since 2015, the year after he
lost reelection and left office, according to the Kentucky Department
of Agriculture.

He was approved to grow up to 20 acres of hemp this year, said
department spokesman Sean Southard.

Peyman said in his license application that he planned to research
ways to increase what farmers could expect to earn from growing the

On Wednesday, state police detective Darren Allen arrested Peyman at
his farm south of McKee on a felony charge of growing marijuana.

Police obtained a warrant to search Peyman's farm after previously
finding 61 marijuana plants there, Allen said in a citation.

Police found harvested marijuana plants drying in Peyman's barn, the
citation said.

Peyman also was charged with drug trafficking because he allegedly had
a large amount of anabolic steroids in his house.

He was released on bond Thursday afternoon after about 22 hours in
custody, according to the Jackson County Detention Center.

Peyman pleaded not guilty at his initial court appearance and is due
back in court later this month.

Southard said Friday that Agriculture Department officials "will be
making further inquiries" of Peyman to see if he has broken the rules
of the hemp program.

Pleading guilty to a felony charge or to a drug-related misdemeanor
can cost a person his or her license to take part in the industrial
hemp research program, according to the Agriculture Department.

Other grounds for revocation include refusing to comply with orders
from the department or from police, Southard said.

"We are gathering the information we will need to determine whether
Mr. Peyman's license will be revoked," Southard said.

Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles "is determined to not allow
Kentucky's Industrial Hemp Pilot Program to become a smokescreen for
marijuana production," Southard said.

The first experimental hemp plots returned to Kentucky in 2014 after
state and federal lawmakers, officials and activists pushed for the
return of the plant in hopes of developing a new cash crop for farmers.

Hemp has low levels of tetrahydrocannabinol, the chemical in marijuana
that creates a high. Hemp can be processed to be used in clothing,
food, fuel and other products.

There are 196 licensed hemp growers, 49 processors and eight
universities conducting projects as part of the state's industrial
hemp research program, according to Quarles' department.

Peyman is listed as an organizer of a corporation called Hemp Farm
Direct LLC that registered with the state in June.

The address for the company is the same as the one given for Peyman in
his arrest citation. Two other men were listed as organizers with Peyman.

The company has posted a number of updates on Facebook in recent
months about its progress, including a June post celebrating its
approval as a hemp processor.

"From seed to harvest, production to sale, we can now begin producing
organic whole hemp plant products for our future customers," the
company said in the post.

Efforts to reach Peyman and another organizer of Hemp Farm Direct were
not successful.

Peyman had a rocky term as sheriff. He feuded with the county fiscal
court over financing for his office and faced state audits that found
financial shortfalls and accounting problems.

Peyman arrested then-Judge-Executive William O. Smith during a public
meeting in January 2014, accusing him of offenses that included
tampering with public records, forgery and falsifying business
records. Smith said the arrest was politically motivated.

A prosecutor dropped the charges and Smith sued Peyman, winning a
settlement of $62,500.
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