Hopeful Industrial Hemp Farmers Pushing Forward in North Dakota, Oregon

Hopeful hemp farmers in North Dakota and Oregon are stepping forward to join their states’ experimental hemp programs.

The two states are expected to issue licenses for experimental hemp plots — hemp is the non-psychoactive sister plant to cannabis, and is extremely useful in the creation of various textiles, bio-fuel, paper, and construction materials. Both states have already taken legislative action to end hemp prohibition.

North Dakota saw 17 applicants seeking to grow some of the state’s first hemp research plots. 11 applications were approved: “It was very obvious who had done their homework and had the potential to actually accomplish the research,” said Rachel Seifert-Spilde, plant protection specialist with for North Dakota’s Agriculture Department.

North Dakota originally issued the nation’s first licenses for growing commercial hemp in 2007, but federal drug laws prevented the state from moving forward with its hemp program until a provision attached to the 2014 Farm Bill opened the door to hemp crops being conducted for research purposes.

In Oregon, the state has licensed 11 different hemp farmers — though only nine licensees have planted any hemp, and only three of them have actually harvested those crops. Of those three pilot plots, two resulted in hemp crops that had THC levels above the state’s 0.3 limit, which means that, under state law, those crops need to be destroyed.

It’s expected that Oregon will begin issuing a new wave of industrial hemp licenses this February, though conflicts over cross-pollination with local medical and recreational cannabis growers may result in some interesting zoning issues for the northwestern state.


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