Governor’s endorsement aids Indiana’s renewed push for hemp

Politics

Hemp plant (MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP/Getty Images)

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Momentum is building to allow the growth and production of hemp in Indiana.

Senate Bill 516 passed in an overwhelming 47-1 vote in the Senate Monday. The bill would create a program to monitor and regulate hemp and enjoyed support from both Republicans and Democrats. A similar bill died in the Senate last year after passing in the House.

Industrial hemp is a variety of cannabis that can’t produce a high and contains less than 0.3 percent THC. It has a broad variety of applications and can be used to produce clothing, rope, paper and medicinal oils, among many other things.

According to the IndyStar, key to the passage this year is the support of Gov. Eric Holcomb, who now says he supports the state’s efforts to establish a hemp program. Last year, Holcomb didn’t think Indiana was ready to regulate it.

One of the big factors in the governor’s change of heart?

The federal 2018 Farm Bill, which passed in December. The law removed industrial hemp from the Controlled Substances Act, making it legal to grow.

The bill next heads to the House. If it passes there, lawmakers hope farmers will be able to plant hemp this growing season. The bill’s author, Sen. Randy Head, R-Logansport, told the IndyStar it’s possible.

If the measure passes in both chambers and Holcomb signs it by April, the state could draft a program and send it to the Department of Agriculture for approval. After that, it’s a matter of how long it takes for the federal agency to review and approve it.

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