Early last week a senate committee in Kentucky voted unanimously to approve legislation legalizing hemp in the state, putting it to a full senate vote.
On Thursday, the full senate voted 31-6, approving the measure and sending it to the House, where a majority vote would send it to the governors office. A signature from Governor Steve Beshear would make the legislation law.
The vote comes at a critical time; if Kentucky legalizes hemp, obviously it will still be against federal law, meaning production won’t begin until a national change takes place.
However, a bipartisan group of federal lawmakers – that include the Republican senate minority leader – have filed legislation which would end our federal prohibition on industrial hemp, instantly allowing states that legalize or have legalized hemp to begin production.
This would open up a diverse and expansive new market for a state like Kentucky. According to recent congressional research, we import over $400,000,000 worth of hemp from other countries, while we retain the illegality of producing it ourselves.
According to the same congressional research, the hemp market may consist of over 25,000 products from 9 different markets, ranging from textiles to beverages.