Efforts are underway in the current Kentucky General Assembly on both those fronts. The industrial hemp bill has been the subject of much attention recently, with Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, and U.S. Representatives John Yarmuth and Thomas Massie testifying in Frankfort on behalf of the effort.
Citing Kentucky's struggles with drug abuse, Gov. Steve Beshear called Tuesday for lawmakers to be cautious about a push to grow industrial hemp in Kentucky.
"I want them to resolve any law enforcement concerns before moving ahead," Beshear told reporters on Tuesday.
Kentucky State Police and other law enforcement agencies have said hemp fields would be ideal places for marijuana growers to hide their illegal crops, given that the leaves of the plants are identical.
Kentucky Republican leaders have been pushing legislation to license and regulate hemp so that it could be grown if the federal government were to lift a longstanding ban.
A measure legalizing industrial hemp in Kentucky sailed through the state Senate last week, but a more skeptical audience awaits the bill in the House.
Industrial hemp once thrived in Kentucky, but the crop has been banned for decades since the federal government classified it as a controlled substance related to marijuana. Hemp supporters say it re-emergence can help farmers and create jobs turning its seeds and fibers into products.
House Speaker Greg Stumbo, however, says supporters still have not made a convincing case.