University of Kentucky agronomy researchers on May 27 planted a small hemp plot at Spindletop Research Farm outside Lexington -- marking a victory in the state's showdown with the Drug Enforcement Administration. The seeds used were part of a shipment from Italy that was only released after Kentucky's Agriculture Department filed suit against the federal government, naming the Justice Department, DEA and US Customs and Border Protection.
The breakthrough came after attorneys for the state and federal government met twice with a federal judge in Louisville, the DEA agreeing to issue a permit for release of the shipment -- which Kentucky authorities said was not legally needed. Kentucky attorneys argued that the recent US Farm Bill allows state agriculture departments to designate hemp pilot projects for research in states that permit hemp cultivation. Several more test crops were planted at other sites around the state in the following days.
Also increasing the pressure on the federal government was negative publicity from the squabble that actually won more support for Kentucky's hemp revival. US Hemp Oil and its parent company CannaVest Corporation donated seeds for the industrial hemp pilot project at Murray State University. State Agriculture Commissioner James Comer said the research "will bring industrial hemp back to Kentucky and with it new jobs and new farm income."