The Louisville Courier-Journal reported May 9 that a 250-pound shipment of hemp seed is being held up by US Customs and Border Protection at the city's airport -- despite the fact the seeds had been ordered by Kentucky's state government for pilot projects that are allowed under the federal Farm Bill that Obama signed into law in February. If the seed isn’t released and planted by July, some of the projects could be significantly limited or delayed entirely, said Holly VonLuehrte, spokesperson for Kentucky agriculture commissioner James Comer. She told the newspaper that the state Agriculture Department may go to court to have the seeds released in time for this year’s growing season
"We've dealt with the Justice Department, the DEA, the USDA, Customs and Border Patrol, the FDA," VonLuehrte told WDRB TV. "I mean, it's been outrageous the federal bureaucratic hoops that we've had to jump through."
The seeds, ordered from Italy for three state-approved pilot programs, is apparently being held up on orders of the Drug Enforcement Administration. Said VonLuehrte: "The DEA has told us that they will not release the seed to us unless we procure a DEA permit which takes about six months to do. Obviously, we think that's ridiculous."
She points out that the new Farm Bill authorizes states where hemp is legal -- like Kentucky -- to begin conducting such pilot programs. "We would expect that DEA, a law enforcement agency, would know the law," VonLuehrte said. Kentucky's legislature approved such projects in 2013. The projects would be Kentucky’s first legal hemp production in at least 50 years.
State officials have apparently been told they need to get a DEA permit for the shipment, which could take five months. This after Kentucky authorities already intervened to get the seed released after it was held up in Chicago last week -- only to find the shipment held up a second time in Louisville. Protested VonLuehrte: "They do not care what the law is. The law is what they say it is."