State drafting rules for 2015 hemp crop
SALEM — As Oregon gets ready for legal recreational pot at mid-year, some farmers are eager to put in their first crops of hemp, the marijuana cousin that won't get you high.
State agriculture officials are drafting rules that would allow growers to produce industrial hemp this spring, The Oregonian reports.
Hemp is a strain of the plant that doesn't contain much of the psychoactive chemical in recreational or medical marijuana, and its advocates tout it for a variety of uses.
"It could save America," said Jerry Norton, a hemp activist from Salem. "I am talking about everything from biodiesel fuel to food to health care products to paper. It's endless. There are thousands of applications."
He has begun lining up equipment and land, but he's not sure yet how large an operation he'll have, Norton said.
Some of the regulations under discussion have made hemp proponents unhappy, such as the $1,500 license for three years.
Courtney Moran, an attorney with expertise in hemp production, called that "a huge problem," but she said some producers will move forward anyway.
"I know lots of people ready to go," she said. "They want to plant this summer."
There are also objections to a minimum-acreage requirement of 2.5 acres and the stipulation that seeds be used to cultivate a crop, not produced for such uses as dietary supplements and hemp oil, a food ingredient.
Eighteen states, including Oregon, have laws defining industrial hemp as distinct from marijuana and have removed barriers to its production, said Lauren Stansbury, a spokeswoman for the Hemp Industries Association. Only three states — Colorado, Kentucky and Vermont — planted crops this year.
In 2009, the Oregon Legislature approved industrial hemp production, but officials moved slowly at first until it became apparent the crop wouldn't run afoul of federal law enforcement.
Democratic Sen. Floyd Prozanski of Eugene, a proponent of industrial hemp, said the state's law and the rules that will guide the new industry may need to be tweaked, but they're a good first step. "I am in strong support of us moving forward and getting the rules of the current statute in place," he said.