Free the Seed!
The DEA apparently ordered the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol at Louisville International Airport to hold a 250-pound shipment of hemp seeds from Italy in contravention of industrial hemp policy included in the 2013 Farm Bill.
The Drug Enforcement Administration has seized a batch of seeds that were intended to be part of the launch of Kentucky’s legal hemp industry following congressional legalization of the crop for research purposes.
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,” Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer (R) told HuffPost. “The only way they’re not interpreting it is the way it actually reads.”
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.
This is just the latest example of a government agency unwilling to relinquish any of its perceived authority. Other sources indicate the DEA wants Kentucky to apply for a special DEA permit, a process that could take almost six months, effectively putting off this year’s planting of industrial hemp for research purposes in Kentucky.
On a somewhat-humorous side note, Comer points out to HuffPo that Kentucky already has hemp seed on hand and plans to go ahead with their ceremonial planting on Friday, despite the DEA’s seizure of this latest shipment.
During his time in Congress and on the Presidential campaign trail in 2008 and 2012, Dr. Ron Paul was a longtime champion of industrial hemp and its many commercial uses. His legislation, the Industrial Hemp Farming Act, which would reclassify industrial hemp as a plant distinct from the definition of “marihuana” in the Controlled Substances Act of 1971, was reintroduced this Congress as H.R. 525, by Kentucky Representative, Thomas Massie (KY-4). Massie, along with Senator Rand Paul and Senator Mitch McConnell, helped to ensure the provision allowing for the cultivation of industrial hemp for research purposes was included in the most recent iteration of the Farm Bill.