Kentucky Is Getting Its Hemp Seeds Back

May 16, 2014

The DEA seized hemp seeds that were destined for research programs in Kentucky. But the Kentucky Department of Agriculture is not having it.

Earlier this month, the DEA seized a 250-lb shipment of imported Italian hemp seeds. The seeds were bound for Kentucky, which is allowed to research hemp thanks to a hemp provision in the new Farm Bill.

Kentucky’s Department of Agriculture (which had ordered the hemp) filed suit with the DEA on Wednesday, and today a federal judge held a hearing in Louisville to determine if the DEA has any right to interfere with Kentucky’s research.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reports from the hearing that assistant U.S. attorney Ben Schecter said that Kentucky will get its seeds back if it applies for a controlled-substance import permit. “He suggested that the DEA would be ‘partners rather than adversaries in this,” wrote the Lexington Herald-Leader. But Kentucky’s Department of Agriculture sounds as if they will only comply with the permit if the DEA allows its department and partnering universities to work with private Kentucky growers-presumably to wane itself of these tricky imports in the future.

The judge presiding over the case asked the Department to prepare details of its terms so that the DEA can sign off on them. It sounds like the Department is going to do so immediately, so that the judge can hold a formal review next Wednesday, May 21.

Kentucky is one of several states preparing to grow local hemp. Right now, states that have passed pro-cultivation laws can only grow the plant for research purposes through pilot programs tied to academic institutions and state departments of agriculture.

Here’s a helpful resource for knowing which U.S. states can grow hemp.