Feds release hemp seeds to Kentucky officials
Frankfort, Ky. • A nearly 300-pound shipment of hemp seeds detained by federal officials for two weeks has been delivered to Kentucky’s Agriculture Department.
The seeds that spurred a legal fight are expected to be planted in Kentucky soil in the coming days for research projects.
The seeds, imported from Italy, arrived on a UPS truck Friday at the department’s office in Frankfort.
Holly Harris VonLuehrte, chief of staff to state agriculture commissioner James Comer, said the seeds will be divided into batches for pilot projects around the state. Six universities are helping with the research.
The seeds were sprung from confinement after federal drug officials approved a permit Thursday, ending the standoff. The state agriculture department sued the federal government after the shipment was stopped by U.S. Customs in Louisville earlier this month.
Growing hemp without a federal permit was banned in 1970 due to its classification as a controlled substance related to marijuana.
Hemp and marijuana are the same species, Cannabis sativa, but hemp has a negligible amount of THC, the psychoactive compound that gives marijuana users a high. Hemp’s comeback was spurred by the new federal farm bill, which allows state agriculture departments to designate hemp pilot projects for research in states such as Kentucky that allow hemp growing.
Hemp has historically been used for rope but has many other uses: clothing and mulch from the fiber; hemp milk and cooking oil from the seeds; and soap and lotions.