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Kentucky Hemp Law Ruled Unconstitutional


August 1997

Actor Woody Harrelson won the second round of his battle to legalize hemp when the Irvine (KY) Circuit Court upheld a district court's ruling that part of a state law that classifies industrial hemp and finished hemp products with marijuana is unconstitutional (Press Release, "Independence Day for Kentucky Farmers," July 3, 1997; Andy Mead, "Harrelson wins again in hemp court fight," Lexington Herald-Ledger, July 8, 1997).

Irvine Circuit Court Judge William Trude upheld the ruling of Lee County District Court Judge Ralph E. McClanahan in Commonwealth of Kentucky v. Woody Harrelson, (No. 96-M-00161) and declared that Kentucky's Revised Statute 218A.010 (12) is "unconstitutionally defective due to its overbroad application" and "is an arbitrary exercise of power by the General Assembly over the lives and property of free men." The statute makes no distinction between marijuana and hemp, thereby prohibiting the cultivation of industrial hemp.

Harrelson deliberately challenged the law last June when he planted four hemp seeds in Lee County (see "`Cheers' Star, Woody Harrelson, to Protest Anti-Hemp Law, Arrested at Seed Planting," NewsBriefs, Summer 1996). After the district ruling in January (see "Industrial Hemp Movement Growing," NewsBriefs, February 1997), Harrelson said "Hemp was once the number one cash crop in Kentucky and Kentucky was the number one hemp producer in the country. I am confident that day will come again for Kentucky farmers." In response to the July Circuit Court ruling he added, "I like to think that today is the Independence Day for Kentucky farmers."

The prosecutor, Lee County Attorney Tom Jones, said he will now take the case to the Kentucky Court of Appeals.

For more information, contact Harrelson's attorney, Burl McCoy - (606) 254-6363.