He’s carving out marijuana policy as an area of leadership, and that has some activists very, very excited.
By Lucia Graves
If he runs for president, Sen. Rand Paul will not be your typical Republican candidate. On Thursday the Kentucky senator filed yet another amendment protecting the states that have implemented medical-marijuana laws—as well as the patients and doctors acting in accordance with them—from federal prosecution.
The amendment, attached to the “Bring Jobs Home Act,” would allow states to “enact and implement laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of marijuana for medical use” without threat of federal interference. The measure would also protect patients in places where medical marijuana is legal (23 states and the District of Columbia) from prosecution for violating federal marijuana laws.
Paul, who is widely believed to be eyeing the presidency, introduced a separate measure in June to stop the Drug Enforcement Administration from using federal funds to go after medical-marijuana operations that are legal under state law. A similar version of the amendment introduced by Reps. Dana Rohrabacher and Sam Farr easily passed the lower chamber in May, underscoring marijuana’s growing national acceptance.
Paul’s press person has said that the new amendment, if enacted, would go beyond the Farr-Rohrabacher legislation by providing a more formal framework for protecting states that have enacted medical-marijuana laws.
While passage of the amendment is unlikely—it’s not even expected to come up for a vote—the news of its introduction was excitedly written up by a host of advocacy sites, including Hemp News, Stop the Drug War and Ladybud, where advocates encouraged readers to contact their senator in support of Amendment 3630. “When calling or writing, remember that you catch more flies with sugar than honey,” advises one post, presumably meaning you catch more flies with honey than vinegar. “Reframing the medical cannabis issue as a human-rights issue, not a partisan one, will also help.”
Paul also has been outspoken in his support for industrial hemp, working with his fellow senator from Kentucky, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, to pass a measure earlier this year allowing states to grow industrial hemp for research. The legislation is a boon to farmers in Eastern Kentucky, and while it may seem like little more than a pet project for Kentuckians, marijuana activists have been quietly cheering ever since they first got wind of Paul’s plan.
Republicans’ views on medical marijuana have been shifting over the past few years and the Farr-Rohrabacher vote in the House is only the most recent proof. Recent polling by the Pew Research Center found most Americans think pot should be legal, in contrast to a decade ago when voters opposed it by a 2-to-1 ratio, and that there’s broad agreement that government enforcement of marijuana laws is not worth the cost. One poll from 2013 found that 78 percent of independents and 67 percent of Republicans think government enforcement efforts cost more than they’re worth. Younger Americans are even more likely to think so.
A recent story in the Los Angeles Times details why Republicans are slowly embracing marijuana, arguing that the rise of the tea party has given an unforeseen boost to legalization. The story notes tea partiers see the federal government’s position on marijuana as an example of government overreach, and quotes Dan Riffle, then a lobbyist with the Marijunana Policy Project, saying Igor Birman, a tea-party candidate looking to knock out Democrat Ami Berra in a congressional swing district in California, is among a growing number of pro-reform Republicans.
“To many political observers, it looks like Rand Paul is already eyeing a run for the GOP nomination for president in 2016,” marijuana activist Joe Klare wrote in The 420 Times at the time. “Someone in the White House that supports industrial hemp—and drug-policy reform in general—would be a huge boost to the prospects of actual reform on a federal level.”
Marijuana has been called “the sleeper issue of 2016” and something that’s only going to get bigger. As a libertarian senator, Paul has long been in favor of decriminalization and is quite clearly the most pro-reform Republican 2016 contender on the issue of marijuana. (While other likely contenders, such as Florida’s Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, haven’t weighed in on medical marijuana, others, like New Jersey’s Chris Christie have come out against it.) Paul has been considered a leader on the issue in Congress, and even sided with President Obama in noting that minorities are unfairly burdened by drug laws. And as Slate‘s Dave Weigel noted earlier this year, conservatives have stayed with him on the issue, especially as Paul assured them his interest was not in legalizing hard drugs but in reducing minimum sentences. (In 2013 he alienated some activists by claiming the drug was “not healthy“).
For now, Paul is not backing away from those marijuana-reform bona fides, and the fact that he’s been so outspoken on the issue this summer should encourage activists. Indeed on other issues, such as his position on relations with Israel, he’s been massaging his approach ahead of an expected run.
“It’s pretty clear that Rand Paul is working hard to appeal to diverse constituencies as he weighs throwing his hat into the race for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination,” Tom Angell, a spokesman for the pro-legalization group Marijuana Majority, said in an email. “With polls showing supermajority support for medical marijuana across virtually every demographic group, it makes sense Sen. Paul would want to be at the forefront of efforts to modernize these outdated federal laws. And with five U.S. House floor votes in a row coming out favorably for cannabis-policy reformers over the past few months, we expect to see more senators realizing that getting onto the winning side of this issue is a smart move.”
It certainly might expand the pool of people who’d consider voting for a Republican.
by Melissa Swan
Posted on August 12, 2014 at 12:11 AM
Updated Tuesday, Aug 12 at 12:12 AM
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) — A man form Colorado is staking his time, money and experience on a farm in Kentucky all to make medicine from hemp.
“I use the word phenomenon. Agriculture phenomenon, in Kentucky’s very, very near future,” Josh Stanley said.
In Colorado, Stanley is known as a medical marijuana pioneer.
Stanley and four of his brothers have cultivated many forms of medical pot to help control seizures in children. They said they believe it can help others, including cancer patients and veterans.
“It worked for depression, it worked to curb the post traumatic stress disorder, the flair ups, it worked so well we were astonished,” Stanley said.
Earlier this year, Stanley was front and center in Frankfort testifying before Kentucky lawmakers about the Colorado Cannabis.
In an exclusive WHAS11 interview, Stanley talked about moving the base of his operation to Kentucky. But here, he said, he isn’t concentrating on medical marijuana which is still illegal in Kentucky. Instead, he will shift his focus to hemp.
“I don’t use the cannabis word or the marijuana word. That turns people off immediately. What we’re dealing in is hemp. Both in nutritional and medical purposes,” he said.
He’s investing in Kentucky, partnering with farmers on two pilot project and in the market to buy land.
“Kentucky is the place to be and Kentucky is going to be the example for the rest of the country. I am confident of that,” Stanley said.
Stanley said his interest in medicinal hemp began with his own back injury. He was using pharmaceutical drugs when his friend told him to try hemp.
He said within three weeks he was off all pain pills.
Since then, Stanley and his brothers have been at the forefront of creating strains of medical marijuana in Colorado with drastically reduced levels of THC (the substance that gets you high) and turning it into medicine.
Now, he said Kentucky is on the forefront of making medicine – from hemp.
“There are so many unanswered questions, but we are not going to answer them unless we get to it. What my company, and now non-profit organization, seeks to do is lend a hand,” he said.
This fall the hemp from this farm will be turned into an oil – CBD oil — and distributed to children and veterans.
“My hope is in the pilot project that we can take care of 400. We need to be able to take care of 400,000, but that’s OK. It’s a start. You have to start somewhere,” Stanley said.
After a nonsensical battle simply to get the seeds into the arms of farmers in the Bluegrass State, hemp crops are lastly on the develop.
Kentucky’s first crop of hemp in many years is claimed to be flourishing simply two months after the state formally legalized the plant genus for cultivation and analysis functions.
College of Kentucky’s plant researcher David Williams says the cultivation course of is “thrilling” and that the expertise is “very enjoyable”. “It’s numerous enjoyable to be concerned in one thing that’s new and probably potential for Kentucky farmers,” Williams avowed.
Williams says that he’ll harvest the primary crops at his faculty’s plots this September and examine the expansion price to that of 12 different varieties they’re at present rising out.
He additionally was fast to level out that the wrestle to get the seeds the place they wanted to be value them roughly a month of rising time.
“I feel we will develop bigger crops with a full rising season,” Williams defined. “We misplaced a few month.”
Researchers on the school of Murray State declare they’ve crops reaching heights of roughly 14 ft.
Whereas in Japanese Kentucky’s Rockcastle County, the Rising Warriors Undertaking planted hemp on an previous tobacco farm and has reported crops which have reached the sixteen-foot mark.
Ah sure. Hemp is on the develop as soon as once more in the South! How candy it’s!
By Janet Patton
firstname.lastname@example.orgJuly 30, 2014
UK agronomist Dave Williams stood next to a plot of 7-foot hemp plants at the University of Kentucky Spindletop Research Farm in Lexington last Thursday. This hemp was planted in late May after the seeds were released by the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Hemp’s comeback in Kentucky is going strong, tall and green.
A patch of hemp seeded at the University of Kentucky’s Spindletop research farm in Lexington in late May has climbed well over 6 feet in some places and is still going, without neither fertilizer nor pesticides.
“It’s doing just fine so far,” said Dave Williams, a UK agronomist who, with Rich Mundell, is in charge of the test plots.
“We’ve had enough rain to keep it growing and enough heat to make it grow.”
The first legal hemp planted in Central Kentucky appears to be off to a good start despite being planted later than originally hoped.
The seeds, imported from Italy, were seized by U.S. Customs officials in Louisville because the Kentucky Department of Agriculture did not have an import permit. Agriculture Commissioner James Comer sued the federal government to have them released.
The DEA agreed to expedite permits for the state and agreed that private growers also can be permitted by the department to grow cannabis sativa, which is almost identical to marijuana but with minuscule amounts of high-inducing chemicals.
The federal suit will be officially dismissed soon, said Holly VonLuehrte, Comer’s chief of staff.
Further shipments have come in without difficulty, and now about 15 Kentucky farmers have planted test plots for the department, she said.
Williams said his hemp, which includes a larger plot with 13 strains, all thought to be fiber varieties, will be harvested in late September or early October.
The variety in the test plot that has become the poster child for Kentucky hemp is called red petiole and will be evaluated for how much fiber it yields.
This planting is just a first step for what many farmers across the state hope will become a lucrative crop.
The KDA anticipates having at least 30 farmers growing hemp next year, VonLuehrte said.
Williams plans to plant much more as well.
“We’d like to test more varieties than what were available this year,” he said. “There are lots of different fertility regimes we’d like to look at, planting densities we’d like to look at. Lots of research yet to do.”
Other Kentucky universities also planted hemp this year — the first time it has been legally planted in the United States in decades. Murray State got seeds in the ground first, in mid-May.
The same varieties at Spindletop also have been planted at Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond and at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green. Data from all the locations will be compared with the Fayette County trials.
Next comes finding a processor and a buyer. Some processors have expressed interest, Williams said.
“We’re very excited about that,” he said. “If farmers can’t sell it, can’t pack it up in a truck, drive it somewhere and sell it … And if it’s not worth more than whatever their lowest value crop is …” Williams shrugged.
“Really, establishing that market is key.”
Decades ago, when hemp was a major crop in Kentucky, it was grown primarily for fiber, as it is today in Europe. But Canada’s hemp industry is built on seed, mainly processed for oil.
Williams and Mundell hope next year to grow some varieties for seed, rather than fiber.
“This is just a baby step in the research that needs to be conducted before we can make great recommendations to farmers in Kentucky,” Williams said. “This is just the first step in the right direction.”
Janet Patton: (859) 231-3264. Twitter: @janetpattonhl.
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LG&E could be fined up to $68 million along with $37.5K for each day that goes forward until the dumping is stopped. Coal ash contains a toxic brew of pollutants, including mercury and arsenic, which can cause cancer. It’s the waste product left over from the nation’s coal-fired power plants. Here’s great information on coal ash >> http://ow.ly/xoOp4
Help SPREAD this post and TELL US >> Do you think the fines are harsh enough for LG&E’s years of illegal dumping?
MOUNT VERNON, KY — Vote Hemp, the national single-issue advocacy group dedicated to re-commercializing industrial hemp, and Kentucky non-profit Growing Warriors, have partnered to organize a planting of industrial hemp in Mount Vernon, KY on May 16, 2014, as part of the nationwide grassroots education effort Hemp History Week .
The certified industrial hemp seed provided by the Kentucky Department of Agriculture will be grown as part of a research and development program in conjunction with the Kentucky State University, and marks an historic moment in the Bluegrass State after decades of federal prohibition of industrial hemp.
Grown for its versatile fiber and oilseed, which can be used to make rope, paper, building materials, bio-fuels, cosmetics, healthy food, body care products, textiles, plastic composites, and much more, hemp was once a paramount crop of Kentucky cultivated in the state as recently as the 1950′s, but was permanently banned in 1970 as a Schedule 1 drug under the Controlled Substances Act.
The return of hemp to Kentucky’s farmland and mills is lauded by many political, agriculture and industry leaders in the state and beyond who view the burgeoning industrial hemp market as a step toward job growth and sustained economic stability in the Commonwealth.
The hemp will be sown by war veterans who have partnered with Growing Warriors to learn agriculture and farming skills and work toward creating local community food systems.
“The farming and production of industrial hemp in America just makes sense,” says Mike Lewis, Executive Director of Growing Warriors. “The important thing to note is that a hemp industry must be built from the ground up, and if done properly and responsibly it will restore some vibrancy to our communities. Fighting alongside my fellow Veterans for this crop has already made me a wealthier man as I witnessed the grit and determination that built this country play out daily and now I will be afforded the opportunity to plant this historic crop with true patriots.”
“We took on this fight at the state legislature a year ago, and who would have ever dreamed we would change Kentucky law—change federal law—and have hemp in the ground today?” Agriculture Commissioner James Comer said. “This is an historic moment for Kentucky farmers, and my hope is that industrial hemp can again be a thriving industry that presents new opportunities in agriculture and manufacturing for years to come.”
“Kentucky is leading the country toward a revitalized, lucrative and sustainable hemp industry,” says Eric Steenstra, President of Vote Hemp. “Kentucky farmers, legislators and manufacturers have joined together to bring back hemp farming to the Kentucky landscape, knowing that hemp will bring job creation, among many other economic and environmental benefits.”
To date, thirty-three states have introduced pro-hemp legislation and twenty-two have passed pro-hemp legislation. Fourteen states (California, Colorado, Hawaii, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oregon, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia) have defined industrial hemp as distinct and removed barriers to its production.
However, despite state authorization to grow hemp, farmers in those states risk raids by federal agents if they plant the crop outside the parameters of Section 7606 of the recent Farm Bill, due to failure of federal policy to distinguish oilseed and fiber varieties of Cannabis (i.e. industrial hemp) from psychoactive varieties (i.e. marihuana.)
In 2013, both the federal Senate and House introduced versions of the Industrial Hemp Farming Act, S. 359 and H.R. 525 respectively. So far in the 2014 legislative session, industrial hemp legislation has been introduced or carried over in Puerto Rico and twenty-five states: Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois (carried over from 2013), Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire (carried over from 2013), New Jersey (carried over from 2013), New York, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Washington (two bills were carried over from 2013), West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Farm Bill , Growing Warriors , hemp , hemp cultivation , hemp farming , industrial hemp , Industrial Hemp Farming Act , James Comer , Kentucky , Kentucky Department of Agriculture , Kentucky hemp , Kentucky State University , US HR 525 , US SB 359 , Vote Hemp
by Vote Hemp
Vote Hemp is a national, single-issue, non-profit organization dedicated to the acceptance of and a free market for low-THC industrial hemp and to changes in current law to allow U.S. farmers to once again grow this agricultural crop.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer says it’s been a long road to bring back industrial hemp.
Kentucky lawmakers passed a bill in 2013 to allow the reintroduction of industrial hemp if the federal government lifted its ban.
Then, a federal farm bill agreement allowed pilot growing programs. Comer says Kentucky helped lead the way.
“Here we are, we passed it in Kentucky. Now other states are saying ‘Yeah, we want to do that too’. Indiana’s following suit.
Tennessee’s followed suit passing legislation,” Comer said.
However, the big challenge has been getting the hemp seeds into the country, since it has been illegal to import them into the U.S.
The federal government banned hemp several decades ago when it classified the crop as a controlled substance related to marijuana.
“Even though legislation passed in the Farm Bill to legalize it, the customs agents and border patrol and all the different federal bureaucracies
didn’t know about that, so we’ve had to educate all the federal bureaucracies,”Comer said.
In the next few days, the seeds will finally arrive to Kentucky.
They’re coming in from Europe, Canada, and possibly even China. The seeds are first arriving to a port in Chicago.
Comer says six Kentucky universities will do pilot projects on industrial hemp, including the University of Louisville.
They are hoping the projects will answer many questions.
“Like what is the cost of production per acre, what is the yield per acre, what types of invasive species may come in and harm the crop,
what types of farm equipment can we harvest this crop with, which variety of seeds grow best in which types of soil,” Comer said.
Comer says they must also determine how marketable some of the hemp will be.
Comer: First hemp crop in decades set for planting
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky’s first industrial hemp crop in decades will start going into the ground next month now that the pipeline for shipping seeds into the state is opening up to allow the experimental plantings, state Agriculture Commissioner James Comer said Tuesday.
Comer said he expects the first batches of hemp seeds to arrive in coming days at the state Agriculture Department at Frankfort.
“We’re rapidly approaching a crucial time for the seeds to be put in the ground,” he said by phone.
So far, eight pilot projects are planned statewide as part of a small-scale reintroduction to gauge the versatile crop’s potential in the marketplace and as a money maker for farmers. The first planting is scheduled for May 16 in Rockcastle County, said Comer’s chief of staff, Holly Harris VonLuehrte.
“Hopefully we can get enough seeds to have credible research data gathered by this fall,” Comer said. “And next year, hopefully we’ll have enough seeds to have several processors in the state and several farmers under contract growing it.”
Hemp production was banned decades ago when the federal government classified the crop as a controlled substance related to marijuana. Hemp and marijuana are the same species, Cannabis sativa. Hemp has a negligible amount of THC, the psychoactive compound that gives marijuana users a high.
The crop’s comeback gained a foothold with passage of the new federal farm bill. It allows state agriculture departments to designate hemp pilot projects for research in states that already allow the growing of hemp.
Kentucky lawmakers passed legislation last year that allowed hemp to be reintroduced, if the federal government allows its production.
Once the farm bill allowed the experimental plantings, the next challenge was getting hemp seed into the state.
Comer said Tuesday his staff has “gone through every level of federal bureaucracy you can go through to get those seeds in.”
U.S. Border Patrol officials have been cooperative as Comer’s office worked to develop a supply route to bring in hemp seeds, VonLuehrte said. The initial seeds are coming from Canada and Italy, Comer said.
State agriculture officials have helped match farmers with researchers for the pilot hemp projects. Some hemp grown will be sold for commercial uses after the fall harvest to help determine the crop’s marketability, VonLuehrte said. Some hemp will be grown purely for research, she said.
One pilot project in Fayette County will focus on hemp’s potential in medicine, she said. Gov. Steve Beshear recently signed into law a bill that allows doctors at two Kentucky research hospitals to prescribe cannabidiol to treat patients.
Several universities are participating in the hemp projects, also aimed at answering basic production questions for a crop that once thrived in Kentucky.
“It’s going to answer every question that a prospective farmer … would want to know,” Comer said. “What’s the optimum date to plant? Which variety of seeds grows best on which soil? What type of farm equipment does it take to harvest this hemp?”
Comer sees hemp as a way to boost Kentucky’s economy, especially in rural areas, through crop production, processing and manufacturing. Hemp was historically used for rope but has many other uses: clothing and mulch from the fiber; hemp milk and cooking oil from the seeds, and soap and lotions.
The next goal will be to win congressional approval to deregulate hemp, he said.
“We’re hopeful that after a year or two, that it can be deregulated and treated like any other agricultural crop,” Comer said.
The US Department of Agriculture is looking to boost imports of hemp seeds from Ukraine, hoping this will help the country’s battered economy. However, they still do not know what it will be used for.
“We are now involved in trying to figure out ways in which we might be able to use the industrial hemp seeds that are created in Ukraine in the US,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told Bloomberg in an interview Tuesday.
Ukraine is the world’s fourth-biggest producer of industrial hemp seed, the term used to refer to cannabis strains cultivated for non-drug use. Unlike another, most known type of Cannabis grown for marijuana, industrial hemp lacks that same ingredient, THC, which causes physical or psychological effects and gives smoker a high.
Industrial hemp, being one of the earliest domesticated plants known, has many uses from healthy food to making paper, textiles, biodegradable plastics, construction and even fuel.
Easy to cultivate, uses for industrial hemp are growing rapidly.
Ukraine is currently angling for aid from the International Monetary Fund, as much as $20 billion, while it has also been struggling with months of political crisis.
The Obama administration is planning to provide a $1 billion loan for the coup-imposed government of Ukraine, and is working with European allies on a broader package.
Posted: Thursday, March 27, 2014 8:17 am
By VICTORIA ALDRICH
Of all the plants that humans have cultivated throughout history, few are as versatile as hemp. Its fibers easily convert into rope, clothing and furniture material, insulation, plastics, paper and mulch. Its seeds are perfect for birdseed, hemp milk, protein powder and fish bait. Hemp oil is a cheap, nonallergenic base for paints and cosmetics. The leaves taste great in a warm loaf of bread or a salad.
One day, your Kentucky-made car may sport a hemp-based dashboard, state Commissioner of Agriculture James R. Comer told Danville-Boyle County Chamber of Commerce members Wednesday at the year’s first AT&T Public Policy luncheon.
“We successfully passed legislation to allow hemp to be grown in Kentucky this year,” Comer said, through a provision in the newly passed federal Farm Bill. “We are going to have six pilot projects at six universities.”
Since taking office in 2012, Comer has gained attention for drastic measures taken to reduce waste of funds, including monitoring employee vehicle usage through GPS systems. He also increased public accountability by publishing his office’s entire expenditure report. A critical goal this year is stimulating agricultural production and research, factors he describes as key to stimulating Kentucky’s struggling east side.
Few projects are as ambitious as a hemp cultivation program legalized at six state universities through the Farm Bill.
Each university will cultivate a specific variety, Comer explained, and focus on creating a specific finished product.
The University of Kentucky will grow an Asian cultivar to study industrial hemp production and also biomedical canniboid research.
The University of Louisville will study bioremediation techniques, and Kentucky State University will grow state heirloom seeds for industrial use in conjunction with the Homegrown by Heroes veterans program.
Murray State University will grow European cultivars for fiber studies.
Eastern Kentucky University and Morehead State University both will grow Canadian seeds for industrial and renewable energy projects.
“They will work with private-sector farmers to study production aspects and the types of products they can produce,” Comer said. “We farmers want to know what is the cost of production per acre, what is the yield per acre, what is the best time to plant, so we are very excited,” Comer said. “I perceive the hemp being grown on marginal land, on land that is currently being underutilized. You can grow it on land with a greater slope or on land where you wouldn’t grow other things.”
“Boyle County, from a historical perspective, was ground-zero for industrial production for hemp, and we’d like to be at that spot again. Can you give us a hand?” chamber member Mike Perros asked.
“What grows best in western Kentucky may not grow best in Boyle County so we have at least two good years of research that has to be done,” Comer said. “We’re making progress, and it’s not at the level some people would like, but a year ago it was illegal to grow it.”
Few agricultural endeavors generate as much controversy in the United States as hemp production, an established industry throughout the world.
Liberal and conservative backers agree on its endless industrial potential, ease of growth and lack of hallucinogenic content. Critics dislike its low THC levels compared to its notorious cousin, marijuana, and how easy it is to confuse both plants during air surveillance, the most common way police discover illegal cultivation.
“We can pretty much grow it anywhere we want to. The language of the Farm Bill requires it to be administered through a university pilot project,” Comer said.
“This was illegal a few months ago so we’ve made a giant step, but we are going to have to go through a lot of bureaucracy. We found out customs and border patrol hadn’t read the Farm Bill so we had a container of seeds that was turned around and is headed back to China. As I understand it, we have very few seeds in Kentucky.”
Securing companies to process and sell finished goods is critical to jump starting research.
Comer said one company, Caudill Seed, will process seed-based products at plants in Louisville, Morehead and Winchester. Industrial hemp grown in western Kentucky will be purchased by a company in western Minnesota to make plywood and other items for the construction industry.
“Anything that you can make from a tree, you can just about use from hemp. That’s why it’s more sustainable,” Comer said.
Production in eastern Kentucky will focus on creating renewable energy options and possibly automotive manufacturing, Comer added.
“In Germany, Mercedes and BMWs are manufactured using dashboards and other products from the hemp fibers. If you can replace plastic with hemp, that’s taking a giant step toward being sustainable and that’s great for the farmers.”
The project also complements another initiative the state has launched to replace eastern Kentucky’s dead coal industry. Locally produced crops and finished goods will feature a new symbol, Appalachia Proud: Mountains of Potential, similar to the Kentucky Proud program.
“The University of Pikeville is going to produce ginseng,” Comer said.
“You look at the landscape out there and it is obviously mountains and rough terrain. What can you grow or produce in that region? Ginseng grows in the woods, and all that is harvested in Kentucky ends up in Japan or Asia to be processed. We want to develop a processing industry in Kentucky. That’s a unique, outside-the-box partnership between the university and outside industry.”