FRANKFORT, Ky. Gov. Steve Beshear has until Saturday to sign or veto a bill that would open the door to industrial hemp farming in Kentucky. So far, he hasn't said what he'll do.
The General Assembly passed the bill last Tuesday in the final minutes of this year's legislative session, giving the governor 10 days excluding Sundays to veto it.
The bill would allow Kentucky farmers to grow hemp, which can produce paper products and cosmetics, if the federal government lifts its ban on the plant. Hemp is similar to marijuana but has a negligible amount of THC, the psychoactive compound that gives marijuana users a high.
Beshear's office said Monday that he will consult with law enforcement officials. They are concerned marijuana growers could use hemp to camouflage the illegal drug.
Kentucky Congressman Thomas Massie, meanwhile, says legislation he has introduced to legalize hemp is picking up support. The Republican lawmaker says the Industrial Hemp Farming Act has 36 co-sponsors and is gaining momentum.
“People want to giggle when they hear the word hemp because it’s a cousin of marijuana, but this is a jobs bill. And when I explain to them that this bill means jobs I can get more and more co-sponsors,” says Massie.
Massie hopes his bill will get a committee hearing.