Kentucky officials want the federal Drug Enforcement Agency to explain whether it is opposed to allowing farmers grow industrial hemp.

“It would defy common sense to allow states to move forward with marijuana activity, but ignore states that have passed laws allowing for the production of industrial hemp,” states a letter sent to the DEA by U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, U.S. Reps. John Yarmuth and Thomas Massie, state Agriculture Commissioner James Comer and state Industrial Hemp Commission chairman Brian Furnish.

The Department of Justice announced earlier this year that it would not intervene to prevent Washington state and Colorado from legalizing the recreational use of marijuana.

Kentucky officials want to know if the Justice Department has similar feelings about the state's recent decision to legalize hemp production. The state is in the process of creating a framework for licensing and regulating the crop.

“The federal government has said it will respect state laws regarding marijuana cultivation and sales, so we feel that hemp should be treated the same way,” Commissioner Comer said in a statement. “Farmers and processors need to be assured that they won’t be harassed by the DEA if they grow and process hemp, and that’s the purpose of this letter.”

Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway has insisted that growing hemp is still illegal despite state law.

[Farmer holding marijuana hemp plant via Shutterstock]