The states taking policy-making into their own hands from Washington D.C. can be a good thing, but it doesn't quite work out every time. The states of Tennessee and Indiana serve as examples of how the legalization of industrial hemp should and should not be done at the state-level.
Last year, the state of Tennessee effectively thwarted the federal ban on industrial hemp. Legislators passed a bill establishing a quick, orderly, efficient, farmer-friendly process to license industrial hemp growers, and permit them to distribute the crop in the marketplace. A WATE report illustrates the success of Tennessee’s policy.
"Thousands of hemp plants on Rasmussen’s farm will be harvested this October, mainly by hand. That means they’ll take each plant, dry it out and sell it as seed…
Rasmussen’s 2.5 acre industrial hemp farm is a pilot project and one of 50 in our state.
Workers with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture stopped by Wednesday for a yearly review. They took samples to make sure hemp plants are within Tennessee’s legal 0.3 percent limit of THC."
Meanwhile in Indiana, state lawmakers were more concerned about complying with federal regulations than they were with fostering economic growth and prosperity through a legal hemp industry. The state legislature approved the cultivation of industrial hemp only for research purposes conducted by Universities, keeping in line with recently revised federal law on hemp. Producers will only be able to buy and sell hemp as an industrial product if the feds decide to remove their ban. This effectively crushes the prospects of any industrial hemp market developing in the Hoosier State. A Lebanon Reporter article details the Indiana hemp market, or lack thereof.
"The 2014 federal farm bill reconsidered industrial hemp’s potential as a cash crop. Its growth is limited to agricultural research, though, and only after the grower obtains a waiver from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
Purdue, the state’s leading agricultural research university, got the waiver along with a 50-pound bag of hemp seed imported from Canada…
Purdue’s permit came with a DEA mandate: All the plants and any seeds produced have to be destroyed by year’s end."
While the operation at the University of Purdue may be a positive development in the sense that it raises awareness, it does nothing to actually develop a hemp industry, something that would certainly boost agricultural sector in Indiana and put money into the pockets of struggling farmers. But in truth, the research provisions in the 2014 federal farm bill were little more than a stalling tactic to avoid actually lifting the ban. The viability of industrial hemp is known, and has been known for hundreds of years. Research isn’t really necessary at this point.
Tennessee rejected the federal ban, bypassed its regulations entirely, and it is already paying dividends.
In the Volunteer State, everyday farmers are growing acres of industrial hemp throughout the state. Although it’s supposedly being done under the supervision of university researchers, the product is expected to hit the open market and will be sold like any other industrial crop in the near future. The economic impact will be felt immediately in the form of jobs and paychecks. This success story was possible because Tennessee acted outside of the prescribed federal boundaries and took matters into its own hands.
On the other hand, Indiana submitted to the will of Washington D.C. bureaucrats and basically got – nothing.
Due to its strict and unnecessary compliance with federal guidelines, the Hoosier State does not have a viable industrial hemp industry in the works. Instead, it’s got limited production under the auspices of the DEA by University employees at enclosed, fenced-in areas for research purposes only. While farmers, consumers and the general public could reap the economic gains from this burgeoning cash crop, senseless federal rules and the state’s unwillingness to reject them has made that an impossibility.
It’s not too late for the state of Indiana to change course. By introducing legislation similar to our Hemp Freedom Act, Indiana (or any state for that matter) can reject federal ban. By disregarding the federal mandates, a proven cash crop can be unleashed in your state, creating jobs without draining the taxpayer. Make sure to call your state legislator, and urge them to fully legalize industrial hemp today!