All About Hemp: First House Bill About Transporting Hemp; Quarles Says Program Stays ‘Research Project’

January 23rd, 2020


Category: Miscellaneous

(Northern Kentucky Tribune) – Legislation affecting Kentucky’s burgeoning hemp industry is the first to clear the Kentucky House during the 2020 General Assembly.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Matthew Koch, R-Paris, told his colleagues it has the endorsement of The Kentucky Hemp Association and Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles.

“This bill incorporates language and recent guidelines issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture relating to hemp,” he told his colleagues on the House floor. “It also allows the University of Kentucky lab to contract with other labs to meet all the USDA standards for Kentucky hemp testing. It sets requirements for transporting hemp and hemp products, with at least a 24-hour notice, and it can be emailed to the Kentucky Department of Agriculture.”

It also contains an emergency clause, meaning it would become effective upon the governor’s signature, rather than take effect in July with other legislation.

Rep. Joe Graviss, D-Versailles, expressed support for the bill, adding, “We might want to consider a requirement to report the destination. We need to account for the fact they have received what the processor said they were sending, so it matches.”

Graviss also wondered if the material would leave the state, to which Koch replied, “No sir. This bill is attempting to create a safe harbor for in-state transportation.  We have no say on out of state transportation.”

Rep. Wilson Stone, D-Scottsville said, “We have given birth to a fast-growing industry here and we certainly need to do everything we can to help the folks who put time and labor into it to allow them to be prosperous and our Commonwealth to be prosperous.”

There were several members who complained the bill was stricter than federal law on the amount of THC allowed in the plants.

Still, the measure was approved on a 70-17 vote.

The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration.

Quarles: Hemp program continues as research project

Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture Ryan Quarles has announced that his department will continue to operate the hemp program as a research pilot project in 2020 while transitioning to a commercial hemp program.

“The 2018 Farm Bill removed industrial hemp from the federal list of controlled substances, a move which has been a catalyst for hemp growers and businesses,” Quarles said. “Wisely, Congress also gave state departments of agriculture the option to operate state pilot programs for another year before submitting new plans to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.”

He says his office will be working with Kentucky’s Congressional delegation, including Senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul to make sure that the other federal regulators, particularly the Food and Drug Administration, hear the needs of farmers in Kentucky and make regulatory decisions with them in mind.

“By maintaining the pilot program for another growing season, Commissioner Quarles is protecting Kentucky’s farmers, processors, and manufacturers while the U.S. Department of Agriculture continues developing its final rule,” McConnell said. “I hope USDA will continue working with states, including Kentucky, to make the final rule as workable as possible in accordance with the Farm Bill.”

The 2018 Farm Bill included a measure that removed industrial hemp from the federal Controlled Substances Act, gave hemp growers increased access to USDA programs and outlined the requirements a state regulatory framework must contain to earn approval by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The KDA will submit comments to USDA about the interim final rule before the Jan. 29 deadline.

The window to apply to grow hemp in Kentucky this year is open until March 15, and the application is available online.  Processor applications are available there as well and will be accepted year-round.

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