Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer has been planning hemp pilot projects around the state designed to research various aspects of industrial hemp. Given the federal government recently legalized hemp research in states that have done the same (Kentucky legalized hemp last year), these projects are entirely legal. However, despite the legality of what Comer has planned, the DEA recently put a block on a 250-pound shipment of hemp seeds being sent from Italy, to Kentucky. Now, just days after blocking the shipment, the DEA has backed down and will be releasing the seeds.
According to Comer, the DEA showed a lack of knowledge of recent federal changes regarding hemp production; “The first phone call – it was just an utter disregard for federal legislation, the Farm Bill,” Comer said. “The farm bill clearly states that we have the authority in Kentucky because we passed state regulatory framework, to be able to conduct pilot projects with research universities like the University of Kentucky.”
Today Comer filed a federal lawsuit which includes the Justice Department, the Drug Enforcement Administration and U.S. Customs and Border Protection, in an attempt to assure that the seeds are released to the state. The DEA, however, has backed down, and has said that the state will simply need to apply for an import license, something they plan to expedite.
Comer plans to continue forth with the lawsuit until the seeds are in the state’s possession.