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A state in northern India will become the first in the country to legalize the cultivation of hemp.

Harish Rawat, Chief Minister of the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand, announced that farmers throughout the state will be allowed to cultivate industrial hemp. Only two regions in the state–the Terai and Bhabhar regions–are exempted from legalizaiton.

Officials specified that farmers must sell the crop to the government only, and will require a license before beginning cultivation.

The hemp must contain a THC content of no more than 1.5%. The marijuana plants that grow wild in Uttarakhand contain 4-5% THC and will remain illegal to cultivate.

India began making moves toward legalizing hemp in 2010, when it identified a growing demand for hemp in the use of textiles. Uttarakhand has a tradition of hemp production and the government identified it as a prime state for future production.

A future hemp textile market in India is currently being valued at 240 million rupees, or $3.6 million, according to a report in Scroll. The current hemp market is dominated by China, France and Germany, though the U.S. will likely begin to play a larger role in the market in the future.

Photo Credit: Martin Abegglen

 

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