MCCRACKEN COUNTY, Ky. – McCracken County Sheriff Jon Hayden has invited all of the Purchase area sheriffs over Friday to talk about Industrial Hemp.
State lawmakers have been gaining momentum in an effort to get legislation through that would legalize growing hemp. It would still take an exemption from the federal government, but supporters are more and more confident they could actually get one this year.
That means law enforcement agencies need to know exactly what that would mean for them. Hayden told WPSD Local 6 he hasn’t made up his mind about the issue yet. He hopes to get some questions answered Friday from a Kentucky Department of Agriculture expert.
"We’re obviously concerned about the inability to distinguish what is industrial hemp and what is marijuana," he said. The major difference between hemp and pot is the level of THC, the chemical that causes the high when the plant is smoked. Hayden added if hemp is legal, anyone stopped with marijuana will probably claim to have hemp and the only way to tell would be to test it.
"This situation is going to overwhelm the Kentucky State Crime Lab Systems," he said.
Still, even with the obvious challenges, Hayden said if the advantages of cashing in on the controversial crop outweigh the disadvantages, he would support it.
Senate Bill 50 is expected to be voted out of committee Monday and could find it’s way to the Senate floor by Wednesday.