Hemp seeds could be released by federal officials to the Kentucky Department of Agriculture by Thursday as disagreements between the state and U.S. officials appear resolved.
The state agriculture department, as of Tuesday, is registered with the Drug Enforcement Administration to import controlled substances and was in the process Wednesday of getting a permit for the 250-pound shipment that has been held at Louisville International Airport for more than a week by order of the DEA.
The delay prompted the Kentucky department to sue the DEA and other federal agencies to get the seed released in time to be planted by June 1 for eight pilot projects. Those efforts, authorized under this year’s Farm Bill, would be Kentucky’s first hemp crop in decades.
“We’ve now worked out a process and, thus far, things are going very well,” said Holly VonLuehrte, the general counsel for the agriculture department. “It’s a much less adversarial process now. … I’m hopeful that we’ll have this fully resolved.”
There was essentially one issue — relating to the permit — remaining to be discussed during a hearing Wednesday before U.S. District Senior Judge John G. Heyburn II, who has acted largely as a mediator in the lawsuit.
That issue was a line on the DEA form for registrants to indicate how much seed went where. An attorney for the DEA agreed that Kentucky officials could submit a “not to exceed” number for each of the pilot projects rather than specific amounts.
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