LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Freed from the list of federally banned substances, hemp is about to have another growth spurt in Kentucky.
The state's agriculture commissioner said Tuesday his department has approved 1,035 applications to produce up to 42,086 acres of hemp in 2019. Last year, far fewer growers planted about 6,700 acres of the low-THC version of the cannabis plant.
Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles says the surge shows Kentucky is poised to become a national leader in hemp production.
Hemp became a legitimate crop in late 2018 when a provision in the federal farm bill removed the plant from the list of federally controlled substances. For decades, the plant was banned due to its family ties to marijuana. But hemp has a negligible amount of the psychoactive compound that gives marijuana users a high.