U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell met with Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Administrator Michele Leonhart on Wednesday to discuss the DEA's actions in Kentucky in seizing imported industrial hemp seeds intended for lawful pilot projects overseen by universities and the KY Department of Agriculture. McConnell, who requested the meeting, released the following statement after the meeting:
"I again expressed my frustration that the DEA is using its finite resources to stymie plainly lawful hemp pilot projects at the very time Kentucky is facing growing threats from heroin addiction and other drug abuse, and I called on the DEA Administrator to release the industrial hemp seeds so that Kentucky can begin its pilot program. I also stressed that as the author of the industrial hemp provision, the intent of this provision is to allow states departments of agriculture and universities to explore the commercial use of industrial hemp as a means for job creation and economic development. The language expressly exempts hemp from federal regulation for these defined purposes."
Administrator Leonhart advised that progress had been made in negotiations between DEA and the KY Department of Agriculture and pledged to expedite review of Kentucky's pending import permit, apparently, the last bureaucratic hurdle before release of the industrial hemp seeds.