The state Senate Agriculture Committee approved the measure unanimously Monday, The (Louisville) Courier-Journal reported.
Growing hemp is banned in the United States under federal law because the seeds contain THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. The plant cultivated for industrial hemp -- used in cloth, rope, paper and other products -- has been bred to produce large quantities of fiber with low quantities of THC.
Paul wore a shirt he said was made from hemp produced in Canada.
"If I thought this was going to allow marijuana to take off in our state, I wouldn't be for it," he said.
Kentucky State Police Superintendent Rodney Brewer testified it is possible to get high from the seeds of industrial hemp. But Woolsey compared it to low-alcohol beer.
Woolsey said Brewer's statement "is pretty much exactly like saying you can get drunk on O'Douls. It's very difficult."
A number of states have already legalized hemp production. But they have not been granted waivers by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.