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Hemp Study OK by Congressional Candidates

Posted on October 12, 2000

Fletcher, Baesler: OK to study hemp

Lexington, Kentucky — The major-party candidates for the 6th Congressional District last night expressed cautious support for studying whether Kentucky farmers should be allowed to grow industrial hemp.

And Reform Party nominee Gatewood Galbraith said he’s been right on the issue all along.

At a forum sponsored by the Kentucky Farm Bureau, Republican Ernie Fletcher and Democrat Scotty Baesler said they would support further study of industrial hemp as a possible supplemental crop, though both said it couldn’t replace the economic value of tobacco for farmers.

Speaking by phone from Washington, Fletcher said it’s especially important to conduct a law enforcement study of hemp because police often object to the crop, saying it can be mistaken for marijuana.

“It will be difficult to do anything without law enforcement on board,” said Fletcher, the incumbent.

Baesler, a former three-term congressman and tobacco farmer, said its OK to study hemp, but that it wouldn’t be a silver bullet for the troubled farm economy.

“I don’t think anyone should go around the state of Kentucky and say this is going to replace tobacco,” Baesler said. “Because its not.”

Galbraith has long advocated legalization of medicinal marijuana and industrial hemp for fiber and fuel. He pointed out that four former Kentucky governors recently agreed with his position on hemp as an alternative crop.

He also said that law enforcement shouldn’t have to give permission about whether farmers can grow a crop. Hemp and marijuana aren’t the same, he said.

“Hemp and marijuana are to cannabis as Dennis Rodman and Danny DeVito are to being adult males,” Galbraith said.

The candidates covered a wide range of farm-related issues during the forum. Much of the talk was about tobacco, and whom to blame for farmers’ woes.

Copyright © 2000, The Lexington Herald-Leader. All rights reserved.