Commissioner: State police against hemp
FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky State Police Commissioner Rodney Brewer said his agency opposes proposals to grow industrial hemp in Kentucky even though he sees the benefits for the agriculture industry.
Brewer said after a meeting of the newly restarted Kentucky Hemp Commission that state police are concerned the agricultural pluses will be offset by law enforcement minuses such as distinguishing between hemp and its cousin, marijuana.
“It’s incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to the casual observer or even the astute observer to tell the difference between hemp and marijuana as it’s being grown” he said. He added that problem becomes even more difficult when police use helicopters to search for marijuana fields, a common practice.
Hemp and marijuana are the same species, cannabis sativa, but are genetically distinct. Hemp has a negligible content of THC, the psychoactive compound that gives marijuana users a high.
The commission, led by Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, held its second meeting since it came out of a decade-long dormancy. Comer is aggressively pursuing state legislation that would allow hemp, which is illegal to grow in the United States, to be grown in Kentucky with federal approval.
Comer says the crop could provide agriculture and manufacturing jobs in Kentucky, as it once did during World War II. U.S. retail sales of hemp products exceeded $400 million last year, according to industry estimates.