Kentucky Republicans fight federal overreach against farmers

It isn’t bad enough that Jack Conway threatens Kentucky farmers. Now, President Barack Obama’s Drug Enforcement Agency is standing in the way of letting Kentucky farmers and researchers innovate, create jobs, and grow our economy.

Despite provisions in the farm bill – “which legalized hemp for research purposes in states that set up regulatory regimes, as Kentucky as done” – Obama’s DEA has thrown up a roadblock for research and agriculture in Kentucky and seized hundreds of pounds of hemp seeds destined for Kentucky.

Commissioner Comer sues federal officials

In response to the DEA’s overreach, Kentucky’s Department of Agriculture Republican Agriculture Commissioner filed suit Wednesday against U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, the U.S. Department of Justice, the DEA, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

(James Comer, Twitter Feed, 5/14/14)

The suit seeks to force federal officials to release the seeds they seized so that researchers and farmers can begin Kentucky’s hemp-growing pilot program.

Feds give bureaucratic excuses

DEA officials offered a “wide variety of explanations” in an effort to justify their overreach in seizing the seeds.

Comer responded to the DEA’s litany of excuses: “The DEA has offered a wide variety of explanations to Kentucky officials perplexed at the seizure. They’re interpreting the law a hundred different ways. The only way they’re not interpreting it is the way it actually reads.”

Feds to Kentucky: Fill out some paperwork

According to The Huffington Post,

The Drug Enforcement Administration is insisting that the Kentucky Department of Agriculture apply for a permit to import Schedule I drugs before it can gain access to hemp seeds the agency has seized, according to a letter the DEA sent late Tuesday night.

Furthermore, Obama’s DEA reneged on an earlier agreement with Kentucky’s Department of Agriculture and instead imposed further restrictions on Kentucky’s farmers.

The letter, obtained by HuffPost through an open records request, represents a reversal of a previous agreement, said Holly Harris VonLuehrte, a senior official at the Kentucky agriculture office.

“We were told yesterday in multiple phone calls that we wouldn’t have to do this Schedule I import permit,” said VonLuehrte, adding that agreeing to the DEA demand would be an implicit admission that hemp is, in fact, a Schedule I drug. “Industrial hemp is not a Schedule I controlled substance. We’re not going to execute a document that violates federal and state law.”

Comer working with Senators McConnell, Paul to find a solution

Commissioner Comer detailed his work with Senators McConnell and Paul in trying to resolve the Obama administration’s overreach. The Huffington Post reported:

Comer said that he met with Kentucky Sens. Mitch McConnell (R) and Rand Paul (R) this past weekend and relayed to them the DEA’s claim that it was simply following the intent of the recently passed farm bill, which includes a passage championed by McConnell that allows colleges and state departments of agriculture to cultivate hemp for research purposes.

“They were just appalled, because Senator McConnell was the author of the language,” Comer said. “He knows exactly what the congressional intent of the law was.”

In a statement Thursday, Senator McConnell blasted the DEA for its actions and called on it to release the seeds.

“I take a back seat to no one in working to protect Kentucky communities from dangerous drugs such as heroin. It is an outrage that DEA is using finite taxpayer dollars to impound legal industrial hemp seeds. The agency should immediately release the hemp seeds so Kentucky pilot projects can get under way, which will ultimately lead to more economic opportunities in our state.”

*By providing your phone number, you are consenting to receive text messages and calls including automated calls from the Republican Party of Kentucky. Msg & data rates may apply. Message frequency varies. Reply STOP to opt-out, reply HELP for help. Terms & conditions/privacy policy apply.

Join Our Team

Republican Party of