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Conway: Growing Hemp Still a Violation of Federal Law


Attorney General Jack Conway is advising Kentucky leaders that industrial hemp farming remains illegal in the commonwealth.

Conway issued an advisory letter on Wednesday to Gov. Steve Beshear, Agriculture Commissioner James Comer and others to clarify current law related to hemp. The letter appears to deflate hopes of hemp farming proponents who have said they'd like to begin planting next year.

Kentucky lawmakers have passed legislation that would allow farmers to grow the crop if the federal government ever lifts a longstanding ban. But Attorney General Conway said that ban remains firmly in place.

The state agriculture department recently issued a news release saying it was instructed by the Kentucky Industrial Hemp Commission to begin drawing up regulations for hemp farming in the commonwealth. That came on the heels of comments by Justice Department officials that the federal government had no intention of prosecuting hemp farmers. 

Hemp once thrived in Kentucky but hasn't been produced in the state since the federal government classified it as a controlled substance decades ago.

Comer has said he believes hemp would be an economic boon for Kentucky and lead to research opportunities for state universities. Critics have maintained that hemp supporters overstate the immediate impact hemp farming would have on the commonwealth's economy.

The award-winning news team at WKU Public Radio consists of Dan Modlin, Kevin Willis, Lisa Autry, and Joe Corcoran.
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