After several years of legislative maneuvering, Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer announced back in February that industrial hemp pilot projects in Kentucky are a go, something the 2014 farm bill cleared him to do.

Kentucky Senate Bill 50 exempted industrial hemp from the state controlled substances act but also mandated that Kentucky follow all federal rules and regulations with respect to industrial hemp.

The 2014 farm Bill allows state departments of agriculture, in states where industrial hemp is legal, to administer industrial hemp pilot programs in conjunction with universities for the purposes of research and development.

Because the law remains unclear, Comer is working close with Kentucky’s Attorney General Jack Conway to get a blanket waiver from the Drug Enforcement Administration that will allow Kentucky producers to grow industrial hemp for commercial purposes.

Comer is moving forward with five hemp pilot programs in different areas of the state, each with a unique research focus and university affiliation. Producers interested in growing industrial hemp must execute an application with the KDA and affiliate with a pilot program.

The first pilot project, affiliated with Kentucky State University and KDA Homegrown by Heroes military veteran farmer program, will study the cultivation of Kentucky Heirloom hemp seed on a research plot in Eastern Kentucky.

The second project, located in Western Kentucky and affiliated with Murray State University, will cultivate European seed for the purposes of studying hemp fiber.

The third project, located on an urban brownfield and affiliated with the University of Louisville, will study bio-remediation, or the detoxifying and environmental effects of industrial hemp.