James Comer Imported 'Hemp' From China For A Major Donor That Turned Out To Be Cannabis - Truth Comes Out A Decade Later

Zinger Key Points
  • In June 2014 a box labeled “rape seed” arrived from China to Comer’s Kentucky office.
  • By September 2014, suspicions arose when the flowering crop began to emit the pungent odor of marijuana.

In a bizarre incident that could well haunt his political career, Rep. James Comer (R-KY) inadvertently imported weed from China, a situation that remained hidden from the public until now and which starkly contrasts with his stance against doing business with China.

Correspondence obtained by The Daily Beast from a third-party group through a records request, showed that a shipment of "hemp" Comer acquired nearly a decade ago tested 10 times higher than the legal limits for THC.

How Did This Happen?

After Comer's election as Kentucky's commissioner of agriculture in 2011, he undertook an industrial hemp pilot program, which he's often touted as one of the triumphs of his career. Collaborating with Caudill Seed, a Kentucky-based wholesale seed provider, Comer facilitated the import of hemp seeds from China. The relationship began when the Caudill brothers, who later became major campaign donors, showed interest in hemp after discussions with Comer during his election campaign, the Daily Beast reported.

Shipment From China

In June 2014 a box labeled "rape seed" arrived from China to Comer's Kentucky office. Caudill Seed had suggested this import due to its lack of export permit requirements. When Comer's chief of staff questioned why the box was mislabeled, Caudill Seed employees Lori Thomas and Carl Gering speculated that it was mislabeled "as a decoy," noted the Daily Beast.

The seeds were then planted by Morehead State University (MSU) School of Agriculture, which had agreed to conduct tests on the hemp.

Alerted By The Smell

By September 2014, suspicions arose when the flowering crop began to emit the pungent odor of marijuana. An email from Caudill Seed’s Gering to MSU Dean Tony Brannon that began "FYI—your eyes only" confirmed the worst: the plants contained THC levels of 1.87% and 2.74%, far above the 0.3% legal limit for hemp.

During the following months, a back-and-forth communication ensued between Caudill Seed, Comer's office and MSU about what to do with the weed, retest or destroy it seemed to be the only two options.

Despite the looming issue, Caudill Seed hosted a fundraiser for Comer's 2015 gubernatorial campaign (which he lost), further cementing their support. By January 2016, additional testing confirmed the non-compliant THC levels.

In response, MSU's Brannon and Gering agreed to quietly destroy the crop. Brannon submitted MSU's report, including the THC results, to the Kentucky Department of Agriculture (KDA), but omitted comments on the findings. Comer's office, meanwhile, advised delaying destruction until KDA oversight could be arranged. The trail of correspondence ends here, leaving the final disposition of the crop unknown, according to the Daily Beast.

In 2016 Comer moved on to win a seat in Congress where he became a vocal opponent of doing business with China and often criticized President Joe Biden for having given China "access to our markets" during his time as vice president under for President Barack Obama.

The generous donations from the Caudill Seeds slowed to a trickle, then stopped entirely in 2014.

Photo: Benzinga edit with images by Kindel Media on Pexels and Wikimedia Commons 

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