The bill to allow the production of industrial hemp in Kentucky easily passed the Republican-controlled Senate on a 31-6 vote last week, but faces a challenge in the House.
Kentucky grew a lot of hemp decades ago, but the federal government identified it as a controlled substance in the same vein as marijuana, even though it has little of THC in it, the compound in marijuana that produces the high.
Some law enforcement officials have opposed the return of hemp in the state because it's difficult to distinguish from marijuana because it looks alike. Another concern mentioned by law enforcement is the possibility of those growing marijuana covertly planting some pot in the hemp fields.
As for economic potential, in the U.S. industrial hemp sales surpasses $400 million annually. In Kentucky there is demand for hemp to use in the auto industry, which has a strong presence in the state.
Other general uses for hemp include making biofuels, lotions, clothing and paper, among many other products.