Posted May 14, 2014
The Kentucky Department of Agriculture was prepared to go to court to get 250 pounds of hemp seeds released to the state after they were seized by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), but the DEA has now agreed to issue a permit by the end of the week, according to an article by the Lexington Herald-Leader available here.
The seeds, imported from Italy, were seized by the DEA and are being held at a UPS warehouse in Louisville, according to an article by WKMS available here. The DEA argued that a special permit is needed from the agency, but KY Agriculture Commissioner James Comer disagreed.
“If you will look at the Farm Bill, it starts off saying ‘Not withstanding any other federal laws.’ In spite of these other federal laws, Congress intended that we still be allowed to do this,” said Holly VonLuerhte, chief of staff for Comer.
“We’ve been told by agricultural experts if we don’t have this industrial hemp seed in the ground by June 1, then the likelihood is that it won’t come up,” said VonLuerhte.
The DEA has agreed to issue an import permit to the KY Agriculture Department by the end of the week and release the 250 pounds of Italian hemp seeds.
“It looks like we’ve won this round,” Comer said in a statement. Comer’s office “had threatened to go to federal court Wednesday to seek an injunction to get the seeds.” Now, it seems that won’t be necessary, said VonLuerhte.
Kentucky will be the first state to cultivate hemp for research projects permitted under the 2014 Farm Bill passed in February. Additional information on Kentucky’s pilot projects is available here.
For more information, a recent report on hemp as an agricultural commodity from the Congressional Research Service is available on the National Agricultural Law Center’s website here.