Hemp homecoming: Rebirth sprouts in Kentucky

Tony L. Brannon, Murray State University's agriculture dean, shows hemp seeds taken from a plant at the school's research farm in Murray, Ky. Researchers and farmers are producing the state’s first legal hemp crop in generations (AP photo/Bruce Schreiner)
Call it a homecoming for hemp. Marijuana's non-intoxicating cousin is having a rebirth in Kentucky, a place at the forefront of efforts to reclaim it as a mainstream crop.

Researchers and farmers are producing the state's first legal hemp crop in generations. Hemp has turned into a political cause in the Bluegrass state. Its advocates include U.S. Sens. Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul and state Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, who is running for governor next year.

The crop's reintroduction was delayed in the spring when imported hemp seeds were detained by U.S. customs officials. The state's Agriculture Department sued the federal government, and the seeds were released after federal drug officials approved a permit.

Since then, test plots have shown the crop to be hardy and fast growing. Statewide plantings totaled about 15 acres.

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