Thielen: Kentucky’s Experience Will Aid Hawaii Hemp Research
An Oahu lawmaker said the state of Kentucky has helped break new ground in the importation of hemp seeds, which she expects will make it easier to obtain them for research in Hawaii.
A bill approved during the recent legislative session allows the University of Hawaii to study the potential use of hemp as a biofuel feedstock and in phytoremediation, the use of plants to remove contaminants from soil.
The bill was signed into law by Gov. Neil Abercrombie on April 30, and takes effect July 1.
The research was made possible by the passage earlier this year of the federal Agriculture Act of 2014, which authorizes states and universities to legally conduct hemp research.
But because hemp cultivation was outlawed in the US in 1970, hemp seeds have only been available from other countries.
According to Oahu Rep. Cynthia Thielen, one of Hawaii’s most ardent hemp supporters, Kentucky is among 14 states which have met the conditions of the federal law that dictates that hemp research must use seeds of cannabis plants with a very low percentage of THC, the psychoactive element in marijuana.
But the state’s 250-pound shipment of industrial hemp seeds from Italy was seized by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, which told Kentucky it must obtain a hemp seed import license.
Kentucky’s Department of Agriculture, which has six hemp research projects on tap, on May 14 sued the DEA in federal court, arguing that its action was counter to the Agriculture Act.
Thielen said the Kentucky DOA filed the lawsuit, which asked the court for an expedited hearing, after negotiations with the DEA over release of the seed broke down.
Thielen announced today that the DEA has approved Kentucky’s import permit and will release the seed in time to meet a June 1 planting deadline.
“We have been closely watching the fast moving drama which has been playing out in Kentucky regarding the DEA seizure of industrial hemp seeds from Italy,” Thielen said in a statement. “We are grateful to Kentucky for providing us a model to follow in applying for our own DEA permit.”
“It is ridiculous that so much hysteria has surrounded a plant which can be used for so many purposes and products, none of which will get you ‘high’,” Thielen added.
“These research projects were made legal through the national 2014 Farm Bill and it is ludicrous that the DEA, who has much more important responsibilities, has dedicated time and resources to preventing the development of a viable and important crop for our nation.”