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House Committee Approves Hemp Bill, Prosperity’s seed or insidious weed?

Posted on March 10, 2000

Prosperity’s seed or insidious weed?

By Evansville Courier & Press

Legislation aimed at creating a Kentucky industry around hemp — don’t call it marijuana — was approved by a House committee Thursday.

The long, willowy hemp plant has a market among manufacturers as a fiber for paper, fabric — even interior panels of Ford vehicles, supporters said.

Those manufacturers, some of them in Kentucky, have to be supplied from Canada.

The legislation is in two parts. One is a bill for state regulation of hemp production, including licenses from the Department of Agriculture for hemp growers. The other is a resolution urging the federal Drug Enforcement Administration to allow state regulation.

Rep. Joe Barrows, the House majority whip, sponsored both. A federal permit is required for hemp growing. Barrows, D-Versailles, said the DEA will not issue permits in states without hemp regulation.

Hemp and marijuana are varieties of the cannabis sativa plant. They are virtually identical in appearance, but hemp lacks the concentration of a chemical — THC — that produces the “high” of marijuana.

Hemp was an agricultural staple throughout the 19th century and into the 20th. It was banned in 1937 when the federal government outlawed marijuana.

A Kentucky State Police officer said legalization of hemp would pose an enforcement nightmare because it is indistinguishable from its illegal cousin.

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