Hemp dispute may soon end - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Hemp dispute may soon end

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) --  A dispute over the growing of hemp in Kentucky may be about over.

Lawyers for the federal government and the Kentucky Agriculture Department will meet informally on Wednesday with Federal Judge John Heyburn.

It was just last week when the state Agriculture Department went to Federal District Court in Louisville to seek an injunction in an attempt to get the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to release 250 pounds of imported hemp seed headed to the department for the start of a pilot program involving future hemp production.

The seed was confiscated by the DEA.

But the commissioner of the state agriculture agency believes state and federal government can come to an agreement to allow hemp seeds to be planted in the state as part of a pilot program for research.

"We have a date with the federal judge tomorrow," Agriculture Commissioner James Comer told WDRB News. "Hopefully every term has been met and they will release the seeds."

Comer made his comments following a special meeting of the Kentucky Industrial Hemp Commission. 

It approved a series of regulations that will allow hemp to be grown as part of the pilot program.

Comer says the seeds need to be in the ground by the first week of June or growing season for the crop will be lost.

He is optimistic that still can happen despite the feud with the federal government.

"As soon as we can, we will deliver those seeds to the universities and hopefully it will be by the end of the week," says Comer.

The pilot program allows research to be done on the crop.

"Because there are basic agriculture questions that need to be answered," explains Comer, "like which variety of seeds grow best in which type of soil; when is the optimum time to plant; when is the optimum time to harvest."

A spokesperson for the U.S. Justice Department in Louisville says the DEA is willing to work with the state agriculture department to expedite the release of the hemp seeds.

"I'm cautiously optimistic that we will have those seeds in a matter of days," says Comer.

If the pilot program does get off the ground in a couple of days, Comer says less than ten private farmers will be involved along with six research universities in the state.

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