FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) -- Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway says it's still illegal in the state to grow industrial hemp.

Proponents of hemp farming had hoped to begin planting next year.  Kentucky lawmakers had already passed legislation allowing farmers to grow the crop if the federal government lifted its ban on the crop.  Conway, however, says the ban remains firmly in place.

Hemp once was grown extensively in Kentucky, but hasn't been produced in the state since the federal government classified it as a controlled substance decades ago.

Agriculture Commissioner James Comer countered hours after Conway's announcement that, "Hemp is legal in Kentucky, and the federal government has made it clear that it is not going to prosecute farmers for growing hemp."

He added, "It makes no sense that Attorney General Conway would throw up an unnecessary government obstacle to an industry that has the potential to create jobs and revenue for Kentucky."

The Justice Department last month reversed an earlier policy and said it would honor state laws regarding regulated marijuana sales.  Speaking of marijuana, not hemp, the Justice Dept. said that it could still act if states that legalize marijuana do not regulate it properly.

Hemp supporters say its reemergence can help farmers and create jobs turning its seeds and fiber into products.  Opponents doubt hemp's economic potential and worry it will complicate marijuana eradication efforts.

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