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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- For State senator Paul Hornback, the man who sponsored last year's bill aimed at legalizing industrial hemp in Kentucky, the hemp issue right now is like one of the fields on his Shelby County farm -- frozen.
Hornback and others across the state are waiting to find out if the federal government will grant Kentucky an exemption for industrial hemp, after saying it won't challenge laws in other states that have legalized its cousin, marijuana.
"I'm still optimistic that we will get over that hurdle, and that we'll be treated like every other state in the nation, and that if our exemption is made that Kentucky," Hornback said, "because we have that framework in place, that we'll be able to grow industrial hemp next year in Kentucky."
But even if Kentucky is granted an exemption, it could be a tough sell for farmers. A DEA official tells WDRB News that the overwhelming majority of farmers who apply for permits to grow hemp end up withdrawing them when they find out the incredible amount of regulations involved.
Major Scott Miller, who heads up the Kentucky State Police Special Enforcement Troop, says he can't imagine any farmer will want to grown hemp when faced with all the red tape.
"It's going to be a lot of hoops they have to go through before they can even think about doing it, as far as getting the certifications, as far as getting the permits and everything else," Miller said.
Miller says farmers will also be face inspections by the state police. "They're subject to regulation by the Agriculture, and I think it creates a lot of hoops for them to have to go through just to get to the point they can distribute it. And then distributing it is another issue."
Then there's a recent study by UK economists who claim industrial hemp wouldn't have the economic impact on the state that others have claimed it will.
Senator Hornback disputes that, saying that both Ford and Toyota's Kentucky operations have shown interest is using hemp oil for their vehicle's plastics -- as BMW and Mercedes-Benz are already doing.
But even he admits he's on the fence. When asked if he plans to grow hemp, Hornback responded: "I have to look at the numbers. I'm like every other farmer, like every other businessman out here."