Kentucky Sues Feds Over Confiscated Hemp Seeds

Earlier this week, the Drug Enforcement Administration ordered that 250 pounds of hemp seed be seized at Louisville Airport in Kentucky. The seeds were being imported by the Kentucky government from Italy to plant at state universities in their hemp pilot program. Kentucky legalized industrial hemp in 2013 and the federal government approved legislation this year that allowed states to engage in limited hemp cultivation.

When the DEA refused to return the seeds under reasonable conditions, the Kentucky Agriculture Department filed suit against the Justice Department, the Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Attorney General Eric Holder.

On Friday, there was a preliminary hearing regarding the lawsuit. During the hearing, U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II stated that the DEA must explicitly state what would need to be done for those participating in the pilot program to have the seeds returned. Federal officials responded that the Kentucky Department of Agriculture must fill out a narcotics license in addition to providing memorandum of agreement with the departments of universities planning to cultivate the crop.

In an interview discussing the hearing with the Huffington Post, Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer stated, “It sounds like a victory, but I’m not going to declare victory until those seeds go in the ground. It was very positive today. But we’ve felt pretty good throughout this entire process over the last several weeks, and the DEA would come back and change again. I’m not celebrating. It will be a victory when I have those seeds in hand.”

Elected officials across the state have voiced their support for the hemp program and decried the actions of federal officials. US Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) stated, “It is an outrage that DEA is using finite taxpayer dollars to impound legal industrial hemp seeds.”

According to the Congressional Resource Service, the US is the only developed nation that fails to cultivate industrial hemp as an economic crop. However, in February, members of Congress for the first time approved language in the omnibus federal Farm Bill allowing for the cultivation of industrial hemp in agricultural pilot programs in states that already permit the growth and cultivation of the plant.

The next court hearing is expected to occur on Wednesday, May 21. NORML will keep you updated as the situation evolves.

30 thoughts

  1. What a complete waste of taxpayer dollars the entire DEA is. Michele Leonhart and her DEA cronies should be doing something useful like flipping burgers instead of ruining people’s lives and interfering with planting hemp of all things. Enough already!

  2. If marijuana is defined this way in the Controlled Substances Act:

    The term ‘marihuana’ means all parts of the plant Cannabis sativa L., whether growing or not; the seeds thereof; the resin extracted
    from any part of such plant; and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of such plant, its seeds or resin. Such term does not include the mature stalks of such plant, fiber produced from such stalks, oil or cake made from the seeds of such plant, any other compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of such mature stalks (except the resin extracted therefrom), fiber, oil, or cake, or the sterilized seed of such plant which is incapable of germination.

    but hemp is defined this way in the Agricultural Act of 2014:

    The term ‘industrial hemp’ means the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of such plant, whether growing or not, with a delta-9
    tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.

    what is a DEA agent supposed to do?

    This definition of marijuana would make it clear to them:

    The term marijuana means all parts of the smoke produced by the combustion of the plant Cannabis sativa L.

    and they would let the seeds be planted as intended.

    Time is running out for this year’s planting season, so tell your representatives to redefine marijuana.

  3. This particular topic is one that puts some light on what has been decades of head-scratching and bewilderment over how such poor and damaging public policy still exists. How can it when we know the CSA drug war is accepted as failure and damaging to real people, and that public opinion is strongly for legalization (or terminating prohibition part 2)

    It’s because they didn’t call it the “Hemp Tax Stamp Act,” nor did they call it “Hemp Madness.” Marihuana and Reefer, just terms to obfuscate, to confuse people by being inarticulate, using double-speak that people didn’t understand as referring to hemp. Everyone knew what hemp was in the early twentieth century because we had lived with the plant for millenia, previously.

    To claim that control of hemp is executed in order to remain consistent with a CSA law that should not be, in the first place, an ongoing error, that sort of claim is horse puckey.

    They don’t care if people get stoned and will claim a goal of trying to stop them by force, because they “care” and are concerned, and that’s what justifies the continuation of longest running failure of policy, inappropriately called a drug “war,” when it is transparent oppression. Of human rights. “Look at the abuses over there in China!” That’s a distraction, while we have the most prisoners per capita, and other medieval punishments, for a non-crime.

    They can’t claim that the control of hemp, the justification for what is economic inanity and descent, extends from the so-called need to control peoples’ use of cannabis for psychotropic and medicinal purposes??!

    Let’s just stop playing that game. of concern being primary, because what is most important here to the schemers behind this disaster of public policy hold, as the highest priority, the ban on hemp growing in the US.

    You can purchase it from other countries, hemp products and raw hemp, but people cannot grow it.

    T r a n s p a r e n t , i n c e s s a n t , c o r r u p t i o n

    They don’t care if people smoke cannabis and eat Goldfish, they don’t care if a universally accepted medicine, except for flat-earth types, in obscene and intellectually dishonest fashion, withhold what is a human right, from the ill and infirm.

    Before Anslinger Hearst Dupont, the very idea of ” paper from trees ” was unheard of, it must’ve been sold to the public with an arsenal of marketing tricks.

    “Paper from trees? Bahahahah! What moron thinks that is a good idea when we have the best paper already from stuff that takes 1 year instead of 25 to grow?” I imagine that’s how some responded.

    “Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.”

    Albert Einstein

  4. It’s on now!
    Confiscate 250 pounds of hemp seed, even after the hemp research amendment passed? Does this not reveal what’s at stake or who is pulling the DEA’s strings? The Koch brothers must be terrified for the threatened value of their petrochemical and timber patents.
    If the DEA doesnt return the seeds before planting season is over, carry the suit against the DEA not for collateral damage or monetary award but for being unconstitutionally organized under the Controlled Substances Act. By the time they try and appeal, Florida will have voted in November and more than half the U.S. will have pro marijuana legislation, making it favorable to win big in the Supreme Court.
    Sounds like the DEA wasnt expecting Kentucky to file suit. I love James Comer. I wish Texas had an Ag. Comissioner with balls like that. (Vote Kinky!)

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  6. Seriously it’s a problem. And its a problem bigger than just this one incident. In several areas fed gov agencies are operating above the law and beyond the will of the people. We must restore freedom and liberty. We must undo or downsize fed agencies. We need to return power to the citizens…We have out of control few in fed agencies and some politicians that are working against freedom, liberty, and the USA as a whole. Its time to shut down programs, funding, and agencies that are trying to disarm citizens, trying to keep our nation from growing by stopping a major cash crop like industrial hemp. We need to end the big government attacking internet and internet business. We have serious problems with small group using fed this or that , phrases like fed land. When its citizens land not a fed agencies or politicians land. Its time to unite by coming together as citizens if at all possible by peaceful means and get our government employees the politicians and fed agencies focused on growing our nation financially and away from being a police state that oppresses freedom and liberty.

  7. “It is an outrage that DEA is using finite taxpayer dollars to impound legal industrial hemp seeds.”

    It is an outrage that the DEA would dare ask for a narcotics license for cultivation of a crop that has absolutely nothing to do whatsoever with narcotics!

  8. If were still looking for escaped Nazi’s
    I think they can be found working for the

  9. “It is an outrage that DEA is using finite taxpayer dollars to impound legal industrial hemp seeds.”

    US Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY)

    The phrase ‘red state/green state’ springs to mind.

  10. “According to the Congressional Resource Service, the US is the only developed nation that fails to cultivate industrial hemp as an economic crop.”

    It’s things like this that kinda make me hate democracy, you know the fact that we have to vote for something that should be just as common sense as “Oh, we’re out of food and I’m hungry, we need to go get some groceries”. Does common sense not trump voting laws? If it doesn’t, let’s just say it does and be done with this. What sucks about voting is no matter how I feel about anything, people are so conservative where I live my vote doesn’t matter/count. So shouldn’t that also be a null/void kind of thing since the idea of voting to change something is just an illusion where I live? We still don’t even have the lottery in my state, but I live so close to the state beside me that I can go buy a lottery ticket in 15 minutes and help out a state I don’t even live in! And my state is HURTING for money. Too bad I just can’t up and move to a state that isn’t so stuck in their ways.

    By the way, there are parking lots in bars. How does the DEA not raid bars every night?

  11. Get rid of this motherfuckers, starting from the federal reserve bank down to the entire fucking white house, we idiots being buffooned for the last 80 years!! Global revolution to this traitors of the constitution!!

  12. We’re witnessing history in the making. I’m glad I lived long enough to see all of this take place. The prohibitionists are clawing and scratching, trying desperately to hold on. Those who profit from the war on drugs and those who are still afraid, because of all the hysteria that been fed to them. It is a painfully slow process, but will absolutely have been worth the struggle. Oh how I long for the day when police can no longer bust doors down and take people’s freedom away over something so beneficial to so many people. As Americans, we have given up so much freedom in the war on drugs. Police storming into people’s homes, shooting anything that moves, which are too often the wrong address anyway. And, they too often get a pass as though it were so necessary to root out drugs, that it was justified to continue even though innocent people and their pets have been killed.

  13. What becomes very clear from this incident is that the DEA operates essentially autonomously. The rest of the US Government simply allows them to act as they please. And they are very accustomed to doing so. They seem to have no fear of being checked by the higher authorities of the Justice Dept. or Congress. This is the perfect example of how the politics of the Drug War have been so one sided and extreme for so long that no political appointee or elected official even considers conducting any oversight of the agency.

    It is this “inside the beltway” paradigm that must change. DC must be disabused of the idea that the status quo with regard to drug policy is set in stone. Firm oversight of the DEA must exerted. They must be made to understand and accept that their mission and power are limited and will shrink.

  14. @AlaminoCasino,
    Cannabis is conservative. Legal, common sense regulation of Hemp and marijuana create jobs “without spending a dime.” Just ask Colorado. Or just ask Republican Minority leader Mitch McConnel -KY, who is poised to defend his seat and possibly take the Senate this fall if he can champion the special interests that took his hemp seeds before planting season is over. Don’t let the politricks fool you. Your vote, your voice and your choice of consumption has real value. Cannabis legalization transcends Democratic or Republican agendas. Cannabis legalisation is the greatest human rights issue of all time.
    Hemp conserves our most precious resource; water. Thanks to 75 years of prohibition, hemp has not been genetically modified by Mosantos to require their herbicide, Round Up. Corn, soy and cotton are so dependent on Round Up it takes twice as much water to produce half the fiber and celulosic plant oil that industrial hemp can. Koch Industries knows this. They purchased the timber and petrochemical patents from DuPont in 2004; The same patents that motivated Anslinger’s racist campaign to outlaw and tax hemp out of domestic production with the Marijuana Stamp Act of 1937. When the Supreme Court decided the M.S.Act was unconstitutional in 69, the profiteers of prohibition began the war on drugs with the Controlled Substance Act of 1970. Nixon actually spent more at first on drug prevention than enforcement. That all changed in 72 when he had to get reelected. Blaming “drugs; public enemy number 1“ became the scapegoat for America’s socioeconomic inequality. Racism was an excellent political disguise for petrochemical and timber industries that could never have controlled the price of crude oil commodities or timber with a healthy, free-market domestic hemp industry in the U.S. bread-basket of the world. So the DEA has been eradicating hemp for the last 42 years in the U.S. (which has grown wild across the U.S. due primarily to the Hemp for Victory campaign of WWII) to satisfy a C.S.Act written by lobbyists that worked for prohibitionist industries. But the world is growing tired of prohibition, and rightly so.
    Look around you. Toxic, flammable petrochemicals made from finite fossil fuels probably surround you everywhere. Plastics that could otherwise be made from hemp oil, are regulated and lobbied by the American Chemistry Council to be made from crude oil instead. (See Henry Ford’s first model T made and fueled entirely from hemp at They’re on the couch you’re sitting on, the rug under your feet, the synthetic nylon and polyester that clothe you and the party plates and cups that end up floating in our oceans and poisoning our food supplies. All of this could be, and must be made by environmentally sustainable industrial hemp.

    Stainmaster Carpets, brauny paper towels, dixie cups, Georgia Pacific;
    -All items that are made from timber or petrochemicals;
    -All are items patented by Koch Industries;
    -All products that could be made more safely, cheaply and more economically sustainable using hemp.
    Now think about this; Every single product that can build you a 2 bedroom, 2500 sq ft home can be made from hemp and grown on a few acres of fertile land. You may prefer glass, masonry and stone in some places, with limestone mixed in to create hempcrete, but presumably you could harvest these materials from your own land as well.
    We can grow our own cars with hemp.
    We can grow our own homes with hemp.
    Hemp products trap carbon. Fossil fueled petroleum products do not.
    Beyond hemp and marijuana medicine, recreation and food lies the most profitable commodity of all to the consumer and the worst nightmare for prohibitionist Koch brothers with timber and petrochemical patents; Take a deep vaporized breath and imagine;
    Acre upon acre of thick, tall hemp fields, undulating in the autumn harvest wind, as far as the eye can see, casting an emerald-green light on a legal, domestic hemp industry for celulosic ethanol fuels, %100 ethanol calibrated engines, and an endless list of superior, sustainable building materials for vehicles, manufacturing and shelter including everything from paper plates and bags to hard celulosic plastics even stronger than steel.
    As difficult as it is to imagine, even Altria, (tobacco cigarettes, Nabisco and Kraft synthetic foods), private prison owners, drug-testing industries, and Big Pharma don’t add up to the trillions of dollars that warhawks, armsdealers, petrochemical, crude oil, fuel and timber patent owners will lose from legalized cannabis.
    The principal threat from hemp to centralized fossil-fueled, corporate domination is a crop so diverse in its variation and utility that it defies patent or pollenated molecular manipulation, terminator seeds or pharmacuetical engineering; cannabis grew up with humans to be modified in our homes and gardens, not only in our laboratories or government-controlled farms. While we can grow hemp “as far as the eye can see,” the cannabis crop is so easy to grow, requiring little fertilizer and no pesticides, that the small farmer will stand a chance against the corporate monoculture that is tearing away at the very fabric of human coexistence within our living planet. At the core of being pro-cannabis is being much more than conservative; its about being sustainable. And with a rapidly changing climate, no other plant offers us as much agricultural diversity, adaptability, essential amino acids, nutrient absorption, coastal buffering and soil retention from rising ocean levels, fracking and excessive irrigation to reforestation potential or carbon trapping potential using durable building materials than cannabis sativa.
    If you are a climate denier, so be it. Personally, I dont entertain “either or” arguments as the answer is most often “both and more.” The planet undergoes natural cycles between hot and cold; for that we are certain. But anyone who says that human activity doesn’t add significantly to recent climate change or significantly impact our environment needs to go lay down in traffic and see whether their environment impacts them. With irrefutable evidence of recent U.S. climate reports and the irreversibility of the melting West Antarctic Ice Shelf, these facts about cannabis make the plant impossible to sustainably prohibit from a growing population of 7 billion humans on the planet. The Green Age is truly upon us, and soon enough, with our concerted efforts, we can all take that to the cannibank.

  15. @Alamino, well it would seem the DEA jobs is to pretend marijuana usage is dangerous while driving/walking by actually dangerous drug use like drinking and driving.

  16. The DEA needs to be dissolved, it no longer serves a purpose now that we know they are in bed and have been in bed with the drug cartels for years and years.

    Its time the government does the right thing and stops wasting our tax money when we are 17.5 trillion dollars in debt.

    This is uncalled for and violates common sense.

  17. The cartels make progress, taking over entire continents, the DEA writhes in worthless bitterness, trying to hold Kentucky farmers down, for wanting to make a living rather than starve while farmers in liberal states eat their lunch.

  18. Obama says one thing and his agencies do another. I feel he is not in charge of these corrupt agencies. The shining city on a hill needs to take a long look in the mirror! What have we become? Who have we put in charge of the store?

  19. When I still had my hemp business back from 2000 to 2006 they screwed with me shipments practically all of the time. Crushed, battered boxes full of packages of hemp pasta (Rasta Pasta, hemp spaghetti, etc.) and roasted, flavored hemp seed and other hemp foods and woven items, unsellable damaged goods that appeared to have water damage as well. If not that, then often they were delayed by Customs before being cleared.

    IMHO the DEA and others loving having power over other people. The power trip gives them a head rush; it’s their high.

  20.  Solution to climate change; Less crude (fossil fuel) oil; More hemp (living plant) oil. Our tax money is not going to the public interest; It’s going to special interests. Example; Koch Industries owns the DuPont patents on timber and petrochemical (crude oil) products, and are using Citizens United to purchase our ethanol and carbon fee rates and subsidies… While our oceans rise, Koch Industries prohibits our solution; Cannabis Sativa.
    Don’t believe Koch Industries BOUGHT Texan Republicans? Read what these anti-cannabis Texan Republicans have to say:

    Rep. Lamar Smith, Republican, TX in response to Department of Justice Budgeting and medical marijuana reform:

    “Thank you for your letter regarding recent medical marijuana legislation.   
    Drug use harms our economy, strains our prison system and destroys the lives of our children.  Legalizing drugs like marijuana, even for medicinal purposes, would make these problems worse, not better.
    Marijuana possession and distribution currently is prohibited under federal law because it has a high potential for abuse and does not have a proven legitimate medical use.  The Food and Drug Administration has not approved smoked marijuana for any condition or disease.”
    For more information about my work in Congress or to send me an electronic message, please visit the 21st District’s website, .

    Here is Senator Cornyn’s response to the Smarter Sentencing Act;

    “Thank you for contacting me regarding the criminal justice system.  I recognize the time and effort that you are dedicating to actively participate in the democratic process, and I appreciate the benefit of your comments on this matter.
    We are a compassionate nation, but it is the duty of those in public office to protect the safety and security of our citizens.  For this reason, tough prison sentences are appropriate for violent and high-risk offenders—keeping them off the street and under the guard of law enforcement officials.  But prisoners should also be treated humanely while incarcerated, and we must make a coordinated effort to rehabilitate them where possible.  
    Based on my dedication to common sense criminal justice reform, I was proud to introduce the Federal Prison Reform Act of 2013 (S. 1783) on December 9, 2013.  This important legislation is modeled on Texas criminal justice reform, and would require the Bureau of Prisons to make recidivism reduction programs available to most non-violent federal prisoners.  It would also allow lower-risk federal prisoners to earn up to 25 percent of their remaining sentence in home confinement or in a halfway house if they have successfully completed such programming.  
    The Federal Prison Reform Act will increase public safety, decrease costs, and help lower-risk federal prisoners reintegrate into society following their prison term.  I am pleased that on March 6, 2014, a modified version of the Federal Prison Reform Act was adopted as an amendment to the Recidivism Reduction and Public Safety Act (S. 1675).  S. 1675 was then passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee by a bipartisan vote of 15-2.  I look forward to working with my colleagues to ensure that this legislation is considered by the full Senate and signed into law during the 113th Congress.
    I am always appreciative when Texans take the time to reach out to me and share their concerns.  Thank you for taking the time to contact me.
    United States Senator” 
    517 Hart Senate Office Building
    Washington, DC 20510
    Tel: (202) 224-2934
    Fax: (202) 228-2856

    While Senator Cornyn and Rep. Smith continue to prohibit Cannabis sativa, hemp can slow down sea level rise by providing sustainable, renewable hemp oil and coastal barriers from rising sea levels and stronger hurricanes. Call your Congressman today.

  21. Many people have gone insane due to hemp seed.
    All tend to be employed in federal government,
    or the private prison industry. See Genesis 1:11

  22. The DEA is on a roll. Apparently, in a Texas raid, a DEA agent threw to the floor and hit with the butt of his rifle a good friend of Wil Wheaton (of Star Trek-Next Generation fame). And a condition of her bond is that her sister retract everything she said about the incident.

    Seriously, the DEA knows that it’s losing the debate over the issue of marijuana so they are doubling down.

    Michele Leonhart can kiss my ass. She’s allowing the agency to live up to its already tarnished reputation.

    Thanks Leonhart and DEA for showing us that, in fact, you are the brutes we always knew you were.

  23. Go Kentucky farmers! Many are for you, and wish you we’ll. we can save ourselves econonomically. We will even make sure our greed ball brothers and sisters get their”cut” ,which is what they are worried about as everyone knows already, no matter what they say. Other industries will NOT be wiped out by this sustainable master plant that has so many wonderful uses that carvings of hemp are found on the walls in tombs of kings! GO KENTUCKY FARMERS!

  24. This economy is really struggling… a hemp industry could at least in part help revitalize the economy and reduce government spending. It’s the least we can do to try to help people find decent paying jobs and would take zero effort on the part of government… they just need to let people have the freedom to prosper.

  25. I am forever baffled by peoples reactions,which are based on prejudice, ignorance, and unaccountabilitly. Where truth and justice are not an option. They are not interested in Truth or Justice. But me and my people ARE!

  26. Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds. Albert Einstein

  27. DC. is a fed district legalize real marijuana for recreational and we as ky. hemp seeds took by the same assholes and no smoker like me would not wont that shit it is not marijuana to me

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