Favor for industrial hemp beginning to grow

Lexington, KY – Once again, lawmakers in Kentucky have introduced legislation that could lead to the production of industrial hemp, something that has been tried many times to no avail.

State Rep. Richard Henderson of Montgomery County is the primary sponsor of the House bill this go around. He said the time has come for Kentucky to again take advantage of a crop that has so much potential — not just for farmers but for manufacturers of hundreds of products that can be produced with industrial hemp.

“Kentucky led the nation in its production in the 1800s, and there is no reason to believe we couldn’t do the same again if my bill becomes law,” he said.

Industrial hemp has proven diverse in its applications, including paper and clothing products and renewable energy fuel. During World War II, hemp was grown to produce rope. In fact, a 1942 film produced by the USDA encouraged U.S. farmers to grow the plant to support the war effort.

Henderson has had plenty of support for this year’s bill with several co-sponsors signing on along with former representative and Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer.

Sen. Joey Pendleton of Hopkinsville, Ky., has introduced nearly identical legislation in the past and again initiated the bill on the Senate side this year.

Henderson and Pendleton recently testified in an informational discussion in front of the House Agriculture and Business Committee.

Henderson told the committee numerous surveys have shown 70 percent of people favor the legalization of industrial hemp.

“Seventy percent of the general public, according to several different polls, favor the legalization of industrial hemp,” he said.

Pendleton quoted a study conducted by the University of Kentucky as to the economic impact growing hemp would have on the state.

“It would create about 17,000 jobs with an economic impact of $400 million to $500 million to the commonwealth of Kentucky,” he said.

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