Bill to legalize hemp advances in Kentucky

March 6, 2013 at 7:22 PM

FRANKFORT, Ky., March 6 (UPI) -- A bill that would legalize the growing of industrial hemp in Kentucky was released from committee Wednesday in the state House of Representatives.

If the bill becomes law, Kentucky would be one of the first states in the country to allow hemp production, The Louisville Courier-Journal reported. Under federal law, hemp is treated as if it was marijuana although it contains far less of the active ingredient THC than its cousin.

Hemp can be used to make fiber and fabric, building materials and paper as well as rope.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo, a Democrat, has not said whether he will bring the legalization bill up for a vote. He has said he is concerned about the views of police officers who say legalizing hemp would make enforcement of laws against marijuana more difficult.

Kentucky's congressional delegation generally supports legalizing hemp. The two Republican U.S. senators, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul, plan to introduce a bill that would change federal law, giving hemp a different status than marijuana.

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