Tag Archives: Indiana

Indiana House votes to allow Hoosier farmers to grow cannabis plants with low THC

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The Indiana House voted unanimously Wednesday for a bill that would allow Hoosier farmers to grow industrial hemp — marijuana’s low-THC cousin.

Under Rep. Jim Lucas’ House Bill 1137, acres of the green leafy plants could be intermingled with rows of corn across family farms in Indiana. Currently only researchers at institutions are allowed to grow the plant, and are unable to do so for commercial purposes. Only Purdue University researchers are growing the product in the state.

The provision could see some push back in the Senate, or from individuals like Attorney General Curtis Hill, who has been outspoken against marijuana legalization.

The Indiana House and Senate appear to be on the same page when it comes to legalizing cannabidiol, a product derived from hemp. However, permitting the growth and manufacturing of hemp would take its legalization a step further.

Many senators were already reluctant to vote for a bill last year that legalized CBD oil for epileptic patients. That measure passed by a 36-13, compared to the unanimous vote in the House.

► More: Holcomb: Indiana stores can continue to sell CBD oil while lawmakers work on fix to law

► More: Indiana takes small step toward legalizing medical marijuana as House votes to study issue

Proponents say House BIll 1137 is a “jobs bill” and could lead to economic growth, while opponents worry about the legality of growing a plant with some similar properties to marijuana.

“Everything I’ve seen says industrial hemp is probably a harmless crop,” Senate leader David Long said. “I have no problem with that, I’m just not sure the federal government issue isn’t still holding us back.”

The federal 2014 farm bill allows states to permit the growth of industrial hemp for research purposes. Kentucky already has a broad industrial hemp pilot program, similar to the pilot program Indiana would begin with this piece of legislation.

Under Kentucky law, farmers can apply for a permit to grow and manufacturer industrial hemp and sell it for various products, such as CBD oil, hemp seed oil and fiber for car manufacturing.

The farm bill permits “marketing research” but also says hemp shouldn’t be grown “for the purpose of general commercial activity.”

The Kentucky Department of Agriculture says its program follows federal law, but others in the industry aren’t so sure.

“There’s been no research that I’ve seen directly,” said Janna Beckerman, a Purdue professor who studies hemp. “It’s sort of a big wink: ‘Oh yea we’re doing research.'”

Indiana would face the same legal question if this bill passes the Senate and is signed into law.

The passage of the law could also be another step towards marijuana legalization, in the eyes of some social conservatives. Already the Indiana House unanimously passed a resolution to study medical marijuana, a unprecedented move for the GOP-led chamber.

The average Hoosier would be unable to differentiate between industrial hemp or marijuana, Beckerman said. Both are leafy and green and both can have a potent smell.

Industrial hemp, however, can’t get users high.

She also said someone could easily hide a marijuana plant in a field of hemp.

Despite legal concerns, Kentucky’s Department of Agriculture has pegged its program as a success. In 2017, Kentucky handlers grew 3,200 acres of hemp in 74 counties. 

“Because of the research conducted by our growers, processors, and universities, I am more optimistic than ever that we can put industrial hemp on a path to widespread commercialization once Congress removes it from the federal list of controlled substances,” Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles said in a press release.

Hemp experts say the product could have the same potential in Indiana, once farmers figure out how to properly grow the product.

Indiana is already seen as an agriculture leader and is one of the top 10 agriculture producing states.

“In the long term I think it’s something that will allow our agriculture base to diversify and that’s always a good thing,” Beckerman said. “I think there’s a possibility of different industries developing from this.”

For example FlexForm Technologies, an Elkhart company, manufacturers mats and panel products. Currently the company has to import hemp. That could change if Indiana farmers start growing the product.

Another company, Healthy Hoosier Oil, could use the cold press seed processing they already use to make sunflower seed oil, on hemp seeds to create a food-grade oil.

CBD oil manufacturers could also start using in-state hemp to make their products.

Another issue lawmakers and lobbyist acknowledge they’ll have to solve is educating the public enough to understand the difference between the two plants.

“Industrial hemp has been misaligned with marijuana for the past 70 years or so,” said Justin Swanson, representing Indiana Hemp Industries Association. “It’s time for Indiana’s actions and policies to reflect the fact that industrial hemp is not marijuana and allow the reemerging market to thrive in Indiana once again.”  CONTINUE READING…

Call IndyStar reporter Kaitlin Lange at (317) 432-9270. Follow her on Twitter: @kaitlin_lange.

Indiana Senate Committee Unanimously Approves Industrial Hemp Bill

Indiana Senate Committee Unanimously Approves Industrial Hemp Bill

INDIANAPOLIS, IN — Allowing farmers to grow hemp in Indiana could help boost the economy and dispel myths about a crop that can be used to make everything from paper to car parts, supporters told lawmakers Friday.

The testimony helped convince the Senate’s agriculture committee to unanimously approve a bill, Senate Bill 357, that would enable farmers to legally grow industrial hemp, but only if they or the state gets federal approval. Hemp is marijuana’s non-intoxicating cousin but it cannot be grown under federal law, though many products made from hemp, such as oils and clothing, are legal.

The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Richard Young (D-Milltown), said hemp fields flourished in Indiana before and during World War II, but petrochemical industries and other industries later lobbied against hemp — which can also be used to make fuel — to cut competition.

“This is a plant that has been used for centuries throughout the world and has tremendous potential,” Young said.

But lingering stereotypes have haunted efforts to legalize the crop ever since, said Neal Smith, chairman of Indiana National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

Kentucky passed similar legislation last year, and eight other states have done the same, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

The 1970 Controlled Substances Act requires hemp growers to get a permit from the Drug Enforcement Administration. The last permit was issued in 1999 – and expired in 2003 – for an experimental plot in Hawaii. U.S. Sens. Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell of Kentucky are co-sponsoring legislation that would federally legalize industrial hemp farming.

The economic benefits remain unclear, however, and whether Indiana would receive a permit is uncertain.

Still, Indiana farmers said waiting on state legislation would be a disadvantage.

“I wish Kentucky wouldn’t always be in front of us,” Indiana Farmers Union member Pam Patrick told the committee. “When I see industrial hemp, I see money.”

University of Kentucky research from last year suggested Kentucky could support about 80,000 acres of hemp that would bring in between $200 and $300 per acre, although increasing supplies could cut that to about $100 per acre. The research shows the current national market for the crop is small, and likely could only support a few dozen jobs in Kentucky.

Also in speaking in favor of the Indiana legislation were two mothers of children with Dravet syndrome, a rare childhood disease that causes frequent seizures. Cannabidiol, a chemical in hemp, is sometimes used to stop the seizures.

Brandy Barrett broke down in tears while telling lawmakers how her 7-year-old son can’t visit the zoo because overstimulation can trigger seizures.

“Help me and help all the state of Indiana be a voice for these children,” Barrett said. “Support this bill.”

No one spoke against the bill, which now moves to the full Senate.

Over thirty countries produce industrial hemp, including Australia, Austria, Canada, Chile, China, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, India, Italy, Japan, Korea, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey and Ukraine.

The United States is the only developed nation that fails to cultivate industrial hemp as an economic crop, according to the Congressional Resource Service.

The world’s leader in hemp production is China.

Controlled Substances Act , hemp , hemp cultivation , hemp farming , IN SB 357 , Indiana , Indiana hemp , industrial hemp , Richard D. Young , Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee

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