November 17, 2014

Legislative Committee Briefed on Hemp Research Plans for 2015

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The State Agriculture Committee heard an update last week on Kentucky's hemp pilot project. In September, researchers at the University of Kentucky harvested the first legal crop in decades. UK Plant Sciences Professor David Williams says there's growing interest in a variety of hemp supported products.  "They're particularly interested in the vast of the long strong fibers for composite materials like car door panels, pseudo plastics, particle board type products, building construction materials," said Williams.

Some members of law enforcement have previously expressed concerns about trying to crack down on marijuana in the midst of hemp production.  Committee Chair Paul Hornback and University of Kentucky Researcher David Williams say plots are easily identifiable.  "It really makes it pretty easy for state police because they have the coordinates,  If there is a plot growing that is not under those coordinates, then, it's illegal," said Hornback.

"The entire Canadian industry operates under that exact same protocol," added Williams.

Williams told committee members researchers are holding on to the hemp harvested from the test plots.  He says a larger amount will be planted in 2015, but far short of the amount needed to meet commercial interests.  The state Department of Agriculture is also permitting hemp sites for individual farmers next year.​

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