McConnell says hemp would help Kentucky economy

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - The push to re-establish industrial hemp in Kentucky has won an endorsement from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Kentucky's most influential Republican said Thursday that legalizing the versatile crop would be a "positive development" for Kentucky's economy and farmers. McConnell said he took his stand after discussions with two fellow Kentucky Republicans who support hemp - U.S. Sen. Rand Paul and state Agriculture Commissioner James Comer.

Kentucky lawmakers are considering legislation that would strictly regulate industrial hemp production in the Bluegrass state if the federal government lifts its decade-long ban on the crop.

McConnell says Comer assured him that the state Agriculture Department would pursue hemp production in a way that doesn't compromise law enforcement efforts to eradicate marijuana.

Hemp and marijuana are the same species but are genetically distinct.

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