Universities Hesitant To Study Hemp

Universities Hesitant To Study Hemp
Posted by FoM on May 27, 2001 at 07:48:27 PT
By John Cheves, Herald-Leader Staff Writer
Source: Herald-Leader
Universities in the state are reluctant to grow and study industrial hemp, despite a new law meant to encourage them. Without academic interest, the effort to return hemp to Kentucky's farms possibly as a lucrative replacement for tobacco could end in failure.None of the college agriculture programs have applied to the Council on Postsecondary Education to plant hemp as allowed under House Bill 100, which Gov. Paul Patton signed into law March 20. Hemp is an otherwise illegal crop because of its similarity to marijuana.
The council set a July 1 deadline for applications. But school officials said they have many concerns, including the controversy surrounding hemp and the cost of security measures, such as fences and infrared cameras, required by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.``We probably won't be applying this time,'' said Jenks Britt, head of the agriculture department at Western Kentucky University.``It's just not a major priority to us at this point. We haven't heard of any school pursuing it so far,'' said James Rudolph, director of the Murray State University School of Agriculture.The law's sponsors said they're confident a university will agree to study hemp eventually, but probably not this year.``The most optimistic among us figured it probably would be next year, at the earliest, before we saw any research plots,'' said state Rep. Roger Thomas, D-Smiths Grove.Added state Rep. Joe Barrows, D-Versailles: ``Everyone wants this thing to happen overnight, but this is a complicated process. I'm neither shocked nor dismayed that nobody has applied yet.''Hemp supporters say the plant, which is used to produce food, clothing and a variety of other products, would be a good replacement for tobacco on Kentucky farms.Hemp was a common crop in Kentucky until half a century ago, when the federal government outlawed its production as part of the crackdown on marijuana. The hemp found in products sold in the United States is grown in Canada and other countries.Industrial hemp and marijuana are separate subspecies of cannabis sativa L. Marijuana has from five to 20 times the level of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, a mind-altering substance that can relax users when ingested.Getting high from hemp is impossible because of its low THC level, supporters of the plant say. But hemp critics argue that the two plants appear similar enough that hemp fields could camouflage marijuana. And even a trace of THC from hemp food products shows up as marijuana in urine, rendering some drug tests useless, the critics said.Despite intensive lobbying by hemp advocates, the Kentucky legislature has refused to advocate a return to hemp farming. House Bill 100 offered a compromise, based on a Hawaii law. Universities can grow and study hemp under police supervision and DEA security requirements.In a few years, if research shows that hemp grows well in Kentucky and can earn a profit for farmers, legislators said they will revisit the subject.This assumes universities want to plant hemp. It's not clear they do.The study could be expensive, particularly the security measures required, and there's no money available to help schools cover the costs. At the University of Hawaii, which planted hemp in 1999 with a permit from the DEA, a private company that uses hemp seeds in its hair-care products donated $200,000 for the study.Thomas, the state lawmaker, said he hopes Kentucky will arrange for public or private financial assistance so universities won't need to tap into their own research funds.There's also the controversy. Farmers know marijuana and hemp aren't the same plant, but the public still connects the two, said Britt of WKU.``It would be a big problem for us, starting with the board of regents and going into the community and alumni,'' he said. ``We already get strong letters of concern because we receive tobacco company money for scholarships.''At the University of Kentucky, five agriculture professors said they are interested in hemp, and they're working on a project proposal, said Scott Smith, dean of the College of Agriculture.UK might submit an application to grow hemp by the July 1 deadline, but first it needs more details, such as the space allowed for research plots and DEA security requirements, Smith said.``Will we need to keep the hemp locked up behind barbed wire and guard dogs?'' he asked.House Bill 100 created a 17-member Kentucky Industrial Hemp Commission to help universities with research, explain the rules and report to the governor and legislature on progress. But the commission, which must meet by July 1 under the law, still hasn't been appointed.Barrows, the law's co-sponsor, said the deadlines were included ``so we don't wait around forever before we at least hold a meeting.'' But even if schools don't apply by July and the commission doesn't meet, the law remains on the books, he said.``There's nothing mystical or magical about (the deadlines),'' Barrows said.``This was an instance in which the legislature was ahead of the curve,'' he said, ``and now everyone else has to catch up.''Note: Controversy, security requirements make schools leery.Source: Lexington Herald-Leader (KY)Author: John Cheves, Herald-Leader Staff WriterPublished: Sunday, May 27, 2001Copyright: 2001 Lexington Herald-LeaderContact: hleditorial herald-leader.comWebsite: Articles & Web Site:Kentucky Hemp Growers Cooperative Legal Hemp Farm Continues To Flourish Research in Ky. Draws Near Hemp Archives
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Comment #1 posted by Lindy on May 27, 2001 at 10:01:45 PT:
 Still crazy after all these years........
 This article makes me crazy!! Why are they so reluctant to replace tobacco farming when they already admit to recieving strong letters opposing tobacco money, even for scholarships! Where are the strong letters opposing industrial hemp? We seriously NEED hemp for alternate fuels and TO SAVE THE RAIN FORESTS!! "5" agriculture professors are interested---HOW MANY DO THEY NEED? The big holdup is about a fence? BIG DEAL. So put up a fence. They don't have any problems fencing the tennis courts. Well when the rain forests are gone, the tennis courts will be EMPTY. Get the picture? a few YEARS...if the research shows----HOW MUCH TIME DO WE HAVE TO SAVE THE PLANET,PEOPLE?!!!
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