Kyrgyz anti-drug officers show wild hemp from which hashish can be made growing on a private farm near the town of Kara-Bolta, September 21. The great Silk Road once saw camel caravans bearing tea, textiles and spices to Europe through Central Asia's steppe and desert, but today its a major smuggling route for deadly drugs. (Photo : Reuters)
Lawmakers in the Kentucky state Senate overwhelmingly passed a bill legalizing the industrial cultivation of hemp in order to give the state an economic boost.
On Thursday, Kentucky Republican Senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul, along with two senators from Oregon, introduced the Industrial Hemp Farming Act to remove the plant from its current classification as a drug and allow farmers to begin growing the crop.
According to Sen. Paul, "The Industrial Hemp Farming Act paves the way to creating jobs for Kentucky," Paul said in a statement. "Allowing American farmers to cultivate industrial hemp and benefit from its many uses will boost our state's economy and bring much-needed jobs in the agriculture community. Today's State Senate victory, coupled with the efforts Sen. McConnell and I are making here in Washington increase my confidence that they will soon payoff, to the benefit of Kentuckians."
McConnell added that the bill "has the potential to create jobs and provide a boost to Kentucky's economy and to our farmers and their families."
On the other hand, a number of state House lawmakers and members of Kentucky's law enforcement community criticized the bill saying that the hemp industry would lead to complications with marijuana, an increase in illegal growers and that it is just as dangerous as marijuana.
"We've heard that you can't get high off of hemp. You can get high off of hemp," warned Kentucky State Police Commissioner Rodney Brewer.
Congressman Greg Stumbo, of Prestonsburg, als stated that the increased risk to law enforcement is not worth the possible economic benefit.
"It's not that we're saying 'no,'" Stumbo told AP. "We're simply saying that the evidence doesn't show that there's enough of a market to override the concerns that the law enforcement community has."