The DEA has agreed to expedite a permit application needed to release more than 250 pounds of hemp seeds that were seized this past week. The University of Kentucky had been planning to commemorate its pilot hemp grow on Friday, but the event has generated much more interest, for much different reasons.
The university planned to be among the first to pioneer hemp grows on U.S. soil, which is authorized under state law, and the intent of the crops was for research on the various values that hemp holds for industrialized society, from paper products to fuel. Instead, the seeds were seized.
Department of Justice (DOJ) officials say that they are working with the DEA to resolve the issue. Even though the recent changes to the Farm Bill allow for the cultivation and growth of hemp for educational purposes, the importation of hemp seeds remains illegal and is not discussed in the bill. The DOJ official did not offer any insight into where or how hemp programs could legally obtain seeds.
President Obama’s Farm Bill and Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear’s signature on a 2013 resolution authorizes hemp grows so long as they operate under the legal boundaries of state laws. Now, the Department of Agriculture will have to apply for a permit for the right to import said seeds.
Prior to this decision, event planners and attendees alike were spooked by the DEA’s involvement in hemp. Agricultural Commissioner James Comer told the Huffington Post that the DEA was misusing and misinterpreting the law in more ways than one.
“The only way they’re not interpreting it is the way it actually reads,” Comer said, adding that he planned to sue the agency if it did not release the seeds.
The DEA claims it is following the intent of the law, to the dismay of its author, senator Mitch McConnell, who was appalled by such a claim.
Event co-sponsor Vote Hemp spokesperson, Lauren Stansbury, expected a visit from the agency on May 16 regardless of the decision over the seeds in lieu of warnings of potential arrests.
“If they want to arrest a bunch of war veterans for planting hemp, that’s their decision,” Stansbury said Tuesday.
After the reversal of the decision to hold the hemp seeds, Comer cautiously accepted the win.
“The DEA completely reversed course from this morning. I think we just needed to get their attention.”
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