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Woody Harrelson tests Kentucky law, risking jail for farmers

Posted on August 18, 2000

Lexington, Kentucky — On August 24, 2000, six jurors will decide whether to send Woody Harrelson to prison for up to 12 months, or exonerate him for his 1996 planting of four certified industrial hemp seeds in Beattyville, Kentucky. Because Kentucky law makes no legal distinction between industrial hemp and marijuana, Mr. Harrelson has been charged with possession of marijuana. Currently, 32 industrialized nations, including Canada, grow industrial hemp for it’s numerous commercial and industrial applications. Hemp plants typically have less than 1% THC, whereas marijuana has been found to contain more than 20% THC.

Harrelson rejected the state’s guilty plea bargain for the possession of marijuana charge, stating, “I could not plead guilty to planting marijuana, when in fact I planted industrial hemp seeds incapable of getting anyone high, but able to produce paper, plastics, clothes and fuel. Hemp was used for just these purposes not so long ago, before drug enforcement became the decision-maker about what a farmer can and cannot grow. Shouldn’t our farmers have the same opportunity as other farmers around the world?”

Former Republican Kentucky Governor Louie B. Nunn joined the defense team, saying, “Mr. Harrelson shouldn’t be convicted of a crime he had no intention of committing. He never meant to plant marijuana, and indeed did not plant marijuana, but industrial hemp. We will prove, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that his only intent was to test Kentucky law by planting hemp. I find it absurd that in peace-time, the government is trying to put people in jail for the same harmless act which it encouraged in times of war.”

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