May 16, 2014 – Kentucky’s lawsuit to force the federal government to release 250 pounds of seized industrial hemp seeds was heard in U.S. District Court in Louisville Friday. Without ruling on the merits of the case, Senior Judge John G. Heyburn scheduled a hearing set for next Wednesday, May 21.
Based on U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration assurances that applying for a controlled substance import permit will not create any restrictions on planting industrial hemp research plots in the state, the Kentucky Department of Agriculture is applying for an import permit.
Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer is going ahead with both the court case and the import permit because he considers it urgent to get the seed planted immediately. As stated in Kentucky’s lawsuit seeking release of the seeds, it is important to plant Kentucky’s research plots by June 1 at the very latest because “every day that passes without the pilot programs being initiated is likely to reduce the probability of a viable industrial hemp crop being produced.”
At least one other state may be celebrating the federal roadblocks which have delayed Kentucky’s new industrial hemp program. On May 14, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam signed House Bill 2445 into law, ordering that the Tennessee Department of Agriculture “shall oversee and annually license any grower who wishes to produce industrial hemp.” Tennessee officials are hopeful their state will harvest industrial hemp this year. Meanwhile in South Carolina, the legislature has passed an industrial hemp bill which Gov. Nikki Haley is expected to sign.