Hemp rally short on people, permit

2017-05-10 | The Hutchinson News

May 10--TOPEKA -- "Miscommunication" was blamed for low turnout at a Kansas State Capitol rally Tuesday in support of industrial hemp legislation.

About a dozen people stood behind the bill's proponent, Rep. Willie Dove, R-Bonner Springs, as he spoke to the press about the merits of industrial hemp as a crop. Off to the side was a uniformed Capitol Police officer, who had verified organizers had not secured a permit for their event in the halls of the Statehouse.

With the Legislature wrestling with writing a budget, developing a tax hike, and putting together a new school finance formula, Dove said he could understand the reluctance of lawmakers to take up the industrial hemp issue. But this is not new, he said, of hemp legislation. He pointed out it passed the House earlier this year on a 103-18 vote, only to stall in a Senate committee.

Dove thinks industrial hemp would be a boost to agriculture. He circulated an email he received on March 29 from Lisa Stehno-Bittel, owner and founder of Likarda LLC, Kansas City, Kansas. The five-year-old company performs early drug studies for pharmaceutical herbal industries.

"Many in this field believe that hemp, because of its strong anti-inflammatory action, will become the next big food additive," Stehno-Bittel wrote.

Among those showing up for the rally Tuesday were Saline County farmer Robert Piper. He had read about the event and was interested in learning more about industrial hemp. Also present was Kelly Rippel, of Topeka, promoter of Kansans for Hemp and for Dove's House Bill 2182.

The ninetieth day of the Legislature's session is Sunday, May 14. The Legislature will continue to work beyond that date, but there is no sign Dove's bill will be put into a conference committee report and get a vote in the Senate.

The News was told Dove has sought a meeting with Gov. Sam Brownback. Asked about the status of a meeting, Dove said, "We don't want to comment on that yet."