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Erwin A. "Bud" Sholts, Chairman



Indiana Joins Industrial Hemp Ranks

Attention: open in a new window. PDFPrintE-mail, April 6, 2014 – Joining a dozen other states, Indiana has formally requested federal approval for launching an industrial hemp research program as authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill which President Obama signed into law in February. Read details on the Farm Bill’s industrial hemp provisions here.

The 13 states which have passed enabling legislation are California, Colorado, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, Washington, and West Virginia.

Another 20 states are in the process of changing their state laws to comply with the federal Farm Bill’s “Legitimacy of Industrial Hemp Research” provision. The provision authorizes universities and state departments of agriculture to grow hemp as part of a research program in any state which has passed a state law to legalize industrial hemp as an approved crop.

Acting immediately on the "Industrial Hemp” bill which Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed into law March 26, Indiana State Chemist & Seed Commissioner Robert Waltz wrote both the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to request “the necessary permits and authorities to grow and regulate industrial hemp in the state of Indiana.” Because new regulatory procedures will need to be created, Prof. Waltz warns that “It could be quite some time before we see any legal production of hemp in Indiana. We are now in a waiting mode. Without federal approval, nothing will happen.”

Waltz explains that no one will be permitted to grow industrial hemp or even possess hemp seeds in Indiana until USDA and DEA specifically authorize these activities. To secure the necessary authority, Waltz has requested that USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart determine “the process for attaining legal authorities for conducting research on the potential uses for industrial hemp and production of industrial hemp. . .” Waltz asks for specifics on every step in the research and growing process from ordering and importing seed to storing the harvested crop and transporting industrial hemp to a processor for final use.

In his separate letters to USDA and DEA, Waltz noted that he was acting quickly in requesting guidance because growing industrial hemp “has been placed as a high priority by the Indiana legislature.”

Waltz has pointed out that once Indiana receives federal authorization to grow industrial hemp, all hemp growers and handlers will need a permit and will be required to agree to a criminal history background check and consent to random inspections to ensure that the plants meet the low-THC definition of industrial hemp. No one with a drug felony or misdemeanor in the past 10 years would be granted a license. As well, there will be requirements involving record keeping and proper labeling of industrial hemp in storage and transportation.

Purdue University houses Indiana’s Office of State Chemist and Seed Commissioner which will regulate the state’s industrial hemp program. For background on industrial hemp, read the Purdue research paper “Hemp: A New Crop with New Uses for North America.”

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