The Richmond Register


February 17, 2013

Hemp – the super crop?

RICHMOND — Congress never intended for the cultivation of hemp to be halted.

“The production and sale of hemp and its products for industrial purposes will not be adversely affected by this bill” was the assurance given to the U.S. Senate when the Marijuana Tax Act (MTA) of 1937 was presented.

Henry Anslinger, commissioner of narcotics at the Treasury Department, assured the acting chair of the subcommittee hearings, saying: “I would say they (hemp growers) are not only amply protected under this act, but they can go ahead and raise hemp as they have always done it.”

The Narcotics Bureau later placed restrictions on farmers that had the effect of making it impossible to cost-effectively cultivate hemp. The Controlled Substance Act (CSA) of 1970 adopted, verbatim, the language regarding hemp from the MTA of 1937.  

The records indicate that it was Congress’s intention that the hemp industry be protected because of the crop’s importance. In fact, in 1994, President Bill Clinton signed National Defense Industrial Resources Preparedness Executive Order 12919, which listed hemp among the essential agricultural products that should be stocked for national security purposes.

The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) does not distinguish between hemp and marijuana although there are major differences. Hemp has less that 1 percent THC (the “high” producing component) compared to 5  to 20 percent THC content for marijuana.

Hemp is planted close together to promote long stalks whereas marijuana is spaced apart to allow the plant to become bushy. Hemp is harvested five to six weeks before marijuana. Cross pollination of hemp with marijuana greatly dilutes the THC level. Some studies have shown cross pollination to take place on plots as far as five miles apart.  

There is a growing movement in Washington to differentiate between hemp and marijuana. Kentucky’s two U.S. Senators, Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell, have been vocal in this movement. Thirty nations allow cultivation of hemp, and the United States imports all its hemp products. Six states have already defined hemp as distinct and several other states (including Kentucky) have pro-hemp legislation pending. The states that have enacted legislation will be poised to grow when Congress passes the necessary legislation.  

What is so good about hemp? Could the benefits of hemp come close to making it a “super” crop? Kentucky has a rich history of hemp production. There are plenty of residents who recall seeing hemp fields here in Madison County. Many are aware of the long fibers in hemp plants that made it ideal for making rope.

Europe uses hemp for textile purposes as it is twice as strong as cotton and requires no chemical pesticides. Hemp is used for paper production, and paper made from hemp lasts three times longer than paper made from wood. Hemp paper production does not require the toxic substances wood paper production requires.

Hemp seeds and hemp seed oils are becoming more popular ingredients in food and cosmetics. Hemp oil, like fish oils, is high in omega-3, which has been advised by the FDA as a way to help reduce coronary heart disease. Because of environmental contaminants like mercury in fish oil supplements, hemp oil products are gaining popularity as a substitute source of omega-3.

Canadian producers use hemp to manufacture an assortment of body-care products. Hemp pulp is used to make lightweight boards and floor coverings in China. Automotive companies are moving towards hemp and other sustainable sources as alternatives to fiberglass and petroleum-based plastics. Hemcrete is a building system that combines hemp fiber with a lime binder for seamless wall construction and floor and roof insulation. Hemcrete is 50 percent lighter than concrete but up to seven times stronger, and is more elastic and less susceptible to cracking.  

Hemp also holds significant potential for biofuel production. Because of its heartiness, hemp is cited as a crop that could yield biofuels without competing with food products. Because of its carbon exchange, rate hemp cultivation has potential for combating climate change.

In the United Kingdom hemp is being grown as part of a carbon offsetting program. New hemp based products continue to be developed.

Kentucky has the potential to be at the forefront of a brand new industry by being ready to take advantage of this opportunity. There is bipartisan support for this legislation as well as support from the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.

You should contact your legislator as ask them to support establishing hemp as a legitimate crop. I welcome your comments at

Billy Ray Hughes, a member of the Madison Fiscal Court, manages a local manufacturing plant.

Text Only
  • Ronnie-Ellis.jpg Education a priority? Don’t believe it

    They did it – more or less.

    They got a budget, they got a road plan and they got out of town on time.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Don McNay.jpg Did you miss small business health-care tax credit?

    A Kentucky professional who owns his own business found that he missed getting the health-care tax credit.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ronnie-Ellis.jpg Compromise is not that simple

    It’s tempting for a casual onlooker to wonder why the Democratic House and Republican Senate can’t make what on the surface looks like the obvious compromise on pension reform.
    The Senate passed a measure based on recommendations of a task force to move new employees into a hybrid, cash-balance plan but maintain existing defined benefits for current employees and retirees.

    March 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jim Waters.JPG Frankfort plays ping-pong with public pension transparency

    Legislation that would make the Kentucky Retirement Systems transparent for those paying its bills has danced into the spotlight during the 2014 session of the Kentucky General Assembly.
    Passage of transparency bills filed by Sen. Chris McDaniel, R-Latonia, and Rep. Robert Benvenuti, R-Lexington, would make the “names, status, projected or actual benefit payments” subject to our commonwealth’s superlative Open Records Act.

    March 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jack Strauss-BW.jpg The case of the ghostly neighbor

    Wilbur lived in a world of fears. Everything frightened him. The full extent of his courage was to admit that he had none.
    Noises in the middle of the night, his own shadow creeping up on him and, most of all, black cats scared the wits out of him.
    So, picture his chagrin, one day, when he came home from vacation only to discover that a mausoleum had been erected on property adjacent to his home.

    March 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • Provisional concealed-carry law passes Senate unanimously

    Things are staying busy in Frankfort. Many bills are making their way onto the Senate floor from various committees. This past week several important pieces of legislation were debated and passed.
    I am particularly proud of the success we had in advocating for Kentuckians’ Second Amendment rights.
    I introduced Senate Bill 106 to allow anyone who has been granted an emergency protective or domestic violence order to receive a provisional CCDW permit from the Kentucky State Police in one business day. In some of these cases, victims need this type of protection as quickly as possible.

    March 8, 2014

  • Ronnie-Ellis.jpg 50 years makes a world of difference

    I wasn’t in Frankfort on March 5, 1964, when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Ralph Abernathy, and Jackie Robinson led 10,000 on a march to the state Capitol in support of a public accommodations law.
    But a few months later, I stood in front of the “Music Hall,” site of the Glasgow Junior High School located on a street named Liberty, and watched black kids “walk up the hill” of College Street on the first day of integrated schools in Glasgow.

    March 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • 02.23 Mike Duncan mug.jpg Coal has kept Kentuckians warm this winter

    This winter, temperatures across the country dipped to historic lows. Here in our home state of Kentucky, the near-arctic climate caused increased power demand which resulted in an incredible strain on the electric grid and rising energy costs.

    March 6, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jim Waters.JPG Protecting citizens’ data is a no-brainer

    Target Corp. is learning the hard way: The price is steep for retailers who don’t protect customers’ sensitive financial information.
    Target’s profits fell a whopping 50 percent during its fourth quarter of 2013 as the result of a massive security breach involving as many as 110 million of its customers’ credit- and debit-card accounts, which began the day before Thanksgiving and extended throughout much of the holiday shopping season.

    March 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ike Adams Making plans for spring planting

    My brother Keith (Keeter) probably planted peas on one of those warm days last week, and I would not be at all surprised to find out that brother Steve did likewise to try to be the first two fellows in Letcher County to actually be digging the soil in their 2014 gardens.
    Keeter’s father-in-law, the late Dock Mitchell, used to get my brother to drive him a 50-mile round trip to get pea seeds and potting soil for early February planting. Dock raised mammoth melting sugar snow peas and sugar snaps around every fence on the place. 

    February 27, 2014 1 Photo

AP Video
Bon Jovi Helps Open Low-income Housing in Philly Pipeline Opponents Protest on National Mall Hagel Gets Preview of New High-tech Projects S.C. Man Apologizes for Naked Walk in Wal-Mart New Country Music Hall of Fame Inductees Named 'Piles' of Bodies in South Sudan Slaughter New Yorkers Celebrate Cherry Blossom Blooms SCOTUS Hears Tv-over-Internet Case Justice Dept. Broadening Criteria for Clemency Chief Mate: Crew Told to Escape After Passengers 'Miss Meadows' Takes Holmes Back to Her Roots Biden: Russia Must Stop Talking, Start Acting David Moyes Out As Manchester United Manager Raw: Leopard Bites Man in India Iowa College Finds Beauty in Bulldogs High Court to Hear Dispute of TV Over Internet Stowaway Teen Forces Review of Airport Security
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide

Should Richmond rezone the southwest corner of Main Street and Tates Creek Avenue to B-1 (Neighborhood Business) with restrictions to allow construction of a financial services office?

     View Results