Ryan Quarles, Kentucky's Agriculture Commissioner, fired a letter to the head of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration this week asking to meet to discuss "federal overreach" with industrial hemp.
He referenced statements from DEA spokesman Melvin Patterson calling all hemp products — even chocolate hemp bark — illegal if the product can be consumed. Even though federal law limits the THC amount to a non-intoxicating level.
"Consumable hemp products are legal to buy," Quarles said.
Duane Sinning, who oversees the industrial hemp program in Colorado, also views hemp products as legal.
"Agriculture laws are not really that hard, unless you get the DEA involved and they want to make it hard," he said.
The 2014 Farm Bill allowed states to pass laws to grow and market industrial hemp, but the law is brief and interpreted in conflicting ways.
Quarles requested a meeting with DEA Acting Administrator Robert Patterson during Quarles' trip to Washington, D.C., at the end of January to meet with agriculture officials from other states.
"We enforce the Controlled Substances Act," Melvin Patterson said Thursday in response to Quarles' letter. "He’s knocking on the wrong door.
"Unless Congress changes it, we’re going to continue to do our jobs.”
Quarles said he believes Congress should — and eventually will — remove hemp from the federal Controlled Substances Act list.