Hemp in Kentucky

The production of hemp in the US state of Kentucky has a history dating to pioneer times, was criminalized in the 20th century, and has recently resumed to a legal industry.


Further information: Cannabis in the United States and Cannabis in Kentucky

19th century Kentucky hemp field

Soldiers in a Kentucky warehouse guarding seed for the 1943 hemp crop

Early cultivation

In the 18th century, John Filson wrote in Kentucke and the Adventures of Col. Daniel Boone (an appendix of his 1784 work The Discovery, Settlement and Present State of Kentucke ) of the quality of Kentucky’s land and climate for hemp production. [1] The first hemp crop in Kentucky was raised near Danville in 1775. [2] [3]

Kentucky was the greatest producer of the United States in the 19th and 20th century, with thousands of acres of production. [4] [a] Senator Henry Clay was a “hemp pioneer” and the “strongest advocate” of Kentucky hemp. He grew it on his Kentucky estate Ashland and brought new seeds to the state of Asia. [6] [7] [8] Clay’s oratory on the senate floor in 1810 in favor of the Navy’s use of domestic products is widely reprinted in newspapers and is credited for the beginning of the elaboration of the American System . [9] Production reached a peak in 1917 at 18,000 acres, mostly grown in the Bluegrass region, then waned to market forces after World War I and other sources of fiber were introduced. [10] [11] A World War II Program for World War II in World War II reached 52,000 acres in Kentucky in 1943. The WWII effort is documented in the USDA film Hemp for Victory . [12] : 1

Decline and criminalization

Production of hemp had seen a decline after World War I. The decline was marketed in the United States. [13] The availability of cheap synthetic fiber after World War II even further discouraged farmers from growing it. [14]

Federal policies, tightened by the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, virtually banned the production of industrial hemp during the War on Drugs . According to an industry group, “the 1970 Act abolished the taxation approach [of the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act ] and effectively made all cannabis cultivation illegal”. [15] The Drug Enforcement Administration refused to issue allowded for legal hemp cultivation [b] and Held That, since industrial hemp is from the Sami species plant have prohibited cannabis (DESPITE icts being white of lower THC yield), both, Were prohibited under the Controlled Substances Act. [14] [17] In the words of a 2015 PBS NewsHoursegment on hemp, “To the federal government, is just as illegal as marijuana”, [18] and according to Newsweek , “all cannabis sativa-whether grown to ease chronic pain, get stoned or make rope-is a schedule I controlled substance “. [7]

Partial relegalization

By the late 20th century, American consumers were left as bystanders. Imported agricultural products, including Canada, but growing in the United States. [c] In 1994, Kentucky was one of the first states to consider reintroducing hemp cultivation, with a commission convened by governor Brereton Jones to investigate legal pathways to do so. [19] In 2013, Kentucky passed a state law, Bill 50, allowing production for agricultural research purposes. Although the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2013, which would have allowed hemp production, failed, [12] : 2Agricultural law is under the Agricultural Act of 2014 (farm bill). [7] [20] [21] [22] The provision Allowing research Was added by Kentucky’s senior US Senator , Majority Leader Mitch McConnell . [18] Production was 33 acres in 2014, 922 acres in 2015, 2,350 in 2016, and agriculture experts expect an increase to c. 9,400 acres in 2017. [23] [24] As of 2016harvest season, only two US states other than Kentucky had over 100 acres in hemp production: Colorado and Tennessee, with smaller projects in Indiana, Nebraska, New York, and Virginia. [25] [26] [27] [28] [29]

The Industrial Hemp Research Program is being conducted under the auspices of the Kentucky Department of Agriculture . Research at the University of Kentucky’s Spindletop Research Farm is seeking improved agronomy and cannabinoid yield. [30] [31] The first research crops at Spindletop and Murray State University were planted in May, 2014, with seed obtained from California and, after a legal battle with the Drug Enforcement Administration , imported from Italy. [32] [33]The researchers are also engineering new mechanical harvesters that can reach the 10-12-foot (3.0-3.7 m) high flowers of tall-growing hemp. [34]

Legal status

Under federal law, the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) present in Both cannabis and hemp remains a schedule I controlled substance . [16]

Under state law, all hemp grown in compliance with the 2014 farm bill must have a THC content below 0.3%. [35] Farmers participating in the program must use a DEA license and use in THC. A sample of each farmer’s crop is tested by the state. [23] [36]


Businesses exist in Kentucky which provides agricultural products based on hemp or supporting hemp production. Cynthiana-based Ananda Hemp has been operating in the Commonwealth since 2014. [37]

Oil extraction

Testing of a $ 400,000 oil extraction facility in Winchester began in March, 2016, with full production capacity of 20,000 pounds (9,100 kg) per hour expected by the end of the year. [38] GenCanna and Atalo Holdings are hopeful of turning their property at Winchester into a “Hemp Research Campus”. [7]

Seed production

Three varieties of hemp seed from Lexington Seed Company Schiavi Seeds are the first to be certified by the Colorado Department of Agriculture . [39] Certified in late 2016 for the 2017 Colorado crop, the varieties being originated from Italy and Serbia. [40] [41]

See also

  • Agriculture in Kentucky
  • History of Kentucky
  • Hemp and Cannabis


  1. Jump up^ “From the end of the Civil War until 1912, virtually all of the US was produced in Kentucky.” [5]
  2. Jump up^ A legal scholar wrote in 1999, “By law, I was controlled by THC-contained plant, marijuana.” Anyone wishing to grow, cultivated, or manufactured a Schedule I controlled substance must obtain licensing permission from the DEA … [I] ndustrial hemp can not be legally grown in the United States because the DEA refuses to grant farmers and contractors the required permit, Number 225, which would allow the licensee to ” manufacture “a” controlled substance. “DEA has never granted these permits.” [16]
  3. Jump up^ According to Purdue researchers in 2002, “In the US, a substantial trade in hemp products has been developed, based on imports of hemp fiber, grain, and oil. state level in persuading legislators of the advisability of experimental hemp cultivation as a means of evaluating the wisdom of re-establishing American hemp production. ” [5]



  1. Jump up^ Hopkins 2015, p. 13.
  2. Jump up^ History of hemp in Kentucky , Kentucky Department of Agriculture, 2016 , retrieved 2016-11-21
  3. Jump up^ “Courthouse lawn, US 127, Danville” , Kentucky Historical Marker Database , Kentucky Historical Society, Marker 1279, archived from the original on 2009-09-12 , retrieved 2016-11-21 , Kentucky’s first recorded hemp crop, 1775 , was on Clark Run Creek, near Danville. Grown by Archibald McNeill, who brought the first seed here.
  4. Jump up^ Hopkins 2015, p. 215 “For the most part, the state of the art in the American industry.” Most of the fiber produced in this country grew in Kentucky, and most of the manufactures of domestic products.
  5. ^ Jump up to:b Small & Marcus in 2002 .
  6. Jump up^ History-making hemp harvest at Clay Estate Henry , WKYT-TV , August 30, 2016
  7. ^ Jump up to:d Jessica Firger (October 23, 2015), “The Great Experiment Kentucky Hemp” , Newsweek
  8. Jump up^ April 8th, 1837: Henry Clay Experiments With New Type of Hemp Seed, Hoping to Introduce it in America , The Raab Collection , archived fromthe original on 2016-11-22
  9. Jump up^ Heidler & Heidler 2010.
  10. Jump up^ Hopkins 2015, p. 208.
  11. Jump up^ Dewey, Lyster H .; Merrill, Jason L. (October 14, 1916), Hemp Hurds as Paper-Making Material , US Department of Agriculture, p. 5, USDA Bulletin 404 – via Internet Archive
  12. ^ Jump up to:b Economic Considerations for Growing Industrial Hemp: Implications for Kentucky’s Farmers and Agricultural Economics (PDF) , Department of Agricultural Economics, University of Kentucky, July 2013
  13. Jump up^ Hopkins 2015, pp. 193-208.
  14. ^ Jump up to:b Farmers sue DEA for right to grow industrial hemp , CNN, October 18, 2007
  15. Jump up^ David P. West, Ph.D. (February 27, 1998), Hemp and Marijuana: Myths & Realities , North American Industrial Hemp Council
  16. ^ Jump up to:b Shepherd in 1999 .
  17. Jump up^ Catherine V. Moore (July 20, 2016), “Can Kentucky Industrial Hemp Save Small Farms?” , Yes!
  18. ^ Jump up to:b “Kentucky farmers quitting tobacco, turning Unlikely to new crop” , PBS Newshour , October 17, 2015
  19. Jump up^ Ballanco 1995.
  20. Jump up^ “Hemp Bill (Senate Bill 50) Passes” , Lane Report , Lexington, Kentucky, March 27, 2013
  21. Jump up^ Robin Roenker (January 2016), “Kentucky Industrial Hemp Returns to Kentucky” , Kentucky Living
  22. Jump up^ Gregory A. Hall (February 17, 2014), “Kentucky announces 5 hemp pilot projects” , The Courier-Journal – via USA Today
  23. ^ Jump up to:b Charles Mason (October 14, 2016), “State Expects hemp program to grow” , Bowling Green Daily News
  24. Jump up^ Austin Ramsey (February 14, 2016), “Farmers Eye Hemp Pilot Program” (PDF) , Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer – via Paducah Sun
  25. Jump up^ Hemp’s future hazy as US crop , Associated Press, August 23, 2016 – via Toledo Blade
  26. Jump up^ Nicholas Bergin (November 3, 2016), “UNL launches hemp research” ,Journal-Star , Lincoln, Nebraska
  27. Jump up^ Mary Esch (October 3, 2016), American hemp farms take root under state pilot programs , Associated Press – via The Cannabist
  28. Jump up^ Joseph Paul (August 8, 2015), “A field day at Purdue University’s first hemp farm” , Indianapolis Star
  29. Jump up^ John Reid (November 21, 2016), “Milestone: Hemp crop harvested in Virginia for 1st time in decades” , Richmond Times-Dispatch – via The Cannabist
  30. Jump up^ Katie Pratt (May 13, 2015), “UK seedlings hemp research plots” , UK AgNews , University of Kentucky
  31. Jump up^ “Industrial Hemp Research Pilot Program” (official website). Kentucky Department of Agriculture. 2016 . Retrieved 2016-11-20 .
  32. Jump up^ Dave Paresh (May 27, 2014), “After DEA Approves Hemp Seed Import, Kentucky Planting Landmark Crop” , The Los Angeles Times
  33. Jump up^ Missy Baxter (June 5, 2014), “Is DEA Dazed & Confused Over Industrial Hemp? The Department of Agriculture needs hemp seeds for critical research.” Why is the DEA trying to stop them? , Rolling Stone
  34. Jump up^ Brad Haire (March 15, 2016), “New hemp harvester can reach medicinally valued top flower” , Southeast Farm Press
  35. Jump up^ State industrial statues hemp , National Conference of State Legislatures , August 19, 2016
  36. Jump up^ Cheryl Kaiser and Christy Cassady (September 2015), Industrial hemp-legal issues (PDF) , University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment
  37. Jump up^ “The Ananda Difference | Ananda Hemp” . Ananda Hemp . Retrieved 2017-10-04 .
  38. Jump up^ Janet Patton (June 15, 2016), “California firm to winchester process at Winchester research center” , Herald-Leader , Lexington
  39. Jump up^ CDA Announces Colorado’s Inaugural Hemp “Certified Seed” (press release), Colorado Department of Agriculture , November 29, 2016
  40. Jump up^ Blair Miller (November 29, 2016), Colorado Dept. of Agriculture certified 3 hemp seed varieties for cultivation , KMGH-TV News
  41. Jump up^ Colorado hemp industry moves ahead after seed certification , Marijuana Business Daily, November 30, 2016