UPS delivered 13 bags, almost 300 pounds, of hemp seeds May 23, 2014, to the Kentucky Department of Agriculture in Frankfort, Ky., about a week before the end of planting season. / Gregory A. Hall, The (Louisville, Ky.) Courier-Journal
FRANKFORT, Ky. - The state Department of Agriculture received its first legal shipment of hemp seeds in years at around noon Friday with about a week to go before it's too late to plant.
After federal officials detained the seeds for more than a week at Louisville International Airport, agriculture officials obtained a federal Drug Enforcement Administration permit late Thursday, the last federal hurdle to getting the seed.
UPS, where the seeds had been impounded because of a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol hold, delivered 13 bags - nearly 300 pounds - of the seeds imported from Italy for pilot projects around the state. Earlier this month, Kentucky Agriculture officials sued the federal government, alleging that officials were trying to run out the clock on planting season, which ends June 1.
Growing hemp without a federal permit was banned in 1970 because of its classification as a controlled substance related to marijuana. But 12 states - California, Colorado, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oregon, Utah, Vermont and West Virginia - now have laws to provide for hemp production as described in the farm bill, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Kentucky universities are participating in pilot projects to cultivate hemp for medical research, for cleaning up industrial waste sites and as a cash crop. Hemp used to grow wild in the state, but this will be the first hemp crop in decades.
Hemp fibers can be made into rope, clothing, foods and lotions. And hemp as an ingredient in these products has no restrictions on sales in the United States.
The seed won't stay in the department's offices for long, officials say. It is expected to be picked up or delivered before the offices close for the long weekend but likely won't be planted over the holiday.
Contributing: The Associated Press
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