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In Debate Over Hemp, a Question about State vs. Federal Drug Laws

Recent calls by high-ranking Kentucky officeholders to legalize industrial hemp have put the spotlight on the crop and what it might mean for Bluegrass State farmers. Both U.S. Senator Rand Paul and Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer say they want to see federal and state law changed to allow farmers to grow hemp legally.

WKU agriculture professor Todd Willian says legalizing hemp at the state level could create a clash with federal drug laws.

“If hemp was legalized for experimental usage in the state, it would still be under federal jurisdiction because it’s a schedule one narcotic. So that brings up all kinds of issues,” says Professor Willian.

Schedule one drugs are illegal to manufacture and sell.

WKU Public Radio is currently pursuing a feature story about the possible economic merits of legalizing hemp. We'll post that story at our website and Facebook page as soon as it's ready.

Most of the attention given to hemp’s economic potential centers around ways hemp fibers can be used to make clothing and rope. But Professor Willian says hemp seeds could also be used to produce food for humans and animals, as well as cosmetics, paints, and inks.

The growing of hemp is legal in many parts of the world, including Canada, Europe, and parts of Asia.

Kevin is the News Director at WKU Public Radio. He has been with the station since 1999, and was previously the Assistant News Director, and also served as local host of Morning Edition.
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