By Charles Beal, Esq., McCoy & West
Lexington, KY – Environmental activist Woody Harrelson’s criminal case concerning the constitutionality of Kentucky’s unique definition of industrial hemp has been scheduled for a jury trial on August 24, 2000 in Lee County District Court. Woody Harrelson commented that, “I have made the decision to go to trial because I believe Kentucky farmers should have the same freedom to grow industrial hemp as farmers in Canada, England, France and even China. I feel comfortable putting my fate in the hands of the people of Kentucky believing six of my peers will see the absurdity of this law and refuse to send me to jail. Our planet stands at the cross-roads, we can continue down the path of supporting industries that are poisoning our air, food and water, or we can follow Henry Ford’s vision of uniting farmers and industries to meet our plastic, paper, car and fuel needs.”
The case was ordered back to Lee County District Court after Kentucky’s Supreme Court reversed two previous lower courts’ decisions finding that hemp was not marijuana. Mr. Harrelson argued Kentucky’s state law was unconstitutionally over-broad by lumping together industrial hemp and marijuana, making both subject to prohibition. Mr. Harrelson claimed such an interpretation of the law robs farmers of the right to grow this valuable crop, which was historically significant in the economic development of Kentucky. He also notes the economic benefits of industrial hemp production outweigh any potential adverse effects upon law enforcement’s battle to eradicate the separate and distinct plant – marijuana.
In May of 1996, Woody Harrelson planted four certified industrial hemp seeds and now faces a possible 12 months in jail if convicted of illegally possessing marijuana. Former Governor Louie B. Nunn, who will be assisting Harrelson’s defense team at trial says, “The law focuses on intent, and Mr. Harrelson never intended to plant marijuana.”
Copyright © 2000, McCoy & West. All rights reserved.