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Originally published Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 4:42 PM

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McConnell says hemp would help Kentucky economy

Efforts to re-establish industrial hemp in the state where it once flourished are winning support from U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. McConnell said its legalization in his home state of Kentucky would benefit farmers and produce jobs to convert the plants into products.

Associated Press

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. —

Efforts to re-establish industrial hemp in the state where it once flourished are winning support from U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. McConnell said its legalization in his home state of Kentucky would benefit farmers and produce jobs to convert the plants into products.

Hemp supporters trumpeted the timely thumbs-up Thursday from the state's most powerful Republican. It comes amid a lobbying campaign by both hemp backers and detractors before state lawmakers resume their regular 2013 session next week.

In a statement, McConnell said if hemp represents a new opportunity to create jobs, "that sounds like a good thing to me."

The Kentucky Senate Agriculture Committee is scheduled to review legislation Feb. 11 to strictly regulate industrial hemp production if the federal government lifts its decades-long ban on the crop.

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