Proponents for industrial hemp production have turned their focus to the Kansas Senate in the 2018 legislative session.
While both Democrats and Republicans in the Kansas House broadly supported HB 2182 in the 2017 legislative session, the Kansas Senate sidestepped a vote on the bill following objections by law enforcement organizations who lobby the legislature.
The new bill before the Kansas Senate, Senate Bill 263, is more limited than the House Bill passed in 2017.
During the 2017 Legislative Session, the Kansas House overwhelmingly supported and passed House Bill 2182 (2017), which would have permitted research and business development related to hemp growing, cultivation, production and distribution for multiple consumer and industrial purposes, such as textile production.
While the measure enjoyed broad support in the Kansas House in 2017, the Kansas Senate refused to give the House Bill a vote after law enforcement organizations who lobby the Legislature objected. The lobbyist for the Kansas Association of Police Chiefs, Kansas Sheriff's Association, and the Kansas Peace Officers Association confirmed this week that each of the organizations opposed House Bill 2182 in the 2017 legislative session.
Watered-Down Senate Version
The new language of Senate Bill 263, which is being heard by Senate's Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, is much more limited, permitting only the research of industrial hemp at state universities and prohibiting commercial cultivation of the crop outside of state-sanctioned test plots.
Law enforcement organizations have not yet offered their opposition to the Senate Bill, but have threatened to do so if there are not amendments added that would require any person with a financial interest in such hemp be subject to a criminal background check and that individuals engaged in the cultivation or possession of hemp be licensed by the state of Kansas.
Broad Bi-Partisan Support for Industrial Hemp
Industrial hemp continues to enjoy broad bi-partisan support in both the Senate and House chambers in the 2018 legislative session. The Republican Chairman of the Senate's Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, Sen. Dan Kerschen, appears to ready to support the measure, assuming law enforcement concerns can be addressed in the bill.