The farmers in Louisiana state, USA, would be able to grow industrial hemp once the Federal government approves its industrial hemp program. The state officials expect that the Federal government would pass the approval by 1st January next year, and farmers would start sowing the seeds by spring. The Federal agencies have not released any kind of rules as of now, and state officials are hoping that they would do so by the next month. The Department of Forestry and Agriculture, Louisiana, has produced an elementary framework based on an anticipation of what the agents might require.
The commissioner of the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF), Mike Strain spoke to a legislative committee on agriculture, and said, “Almost all states are following a similar pathway. I know there is a full-court process by the federal government to get this done.” Hemp has emerged as one of the most important plants recently due to its commercial viability, eco-friendly qualities. Besides, it has several uses like in the making of ropes, plastics, fuels, clothing, etc. and it can also be used for medicinal purposes. It falls in the same species as marijuana but has a low THC component, which causes the ‘high’ in marijuana users, due to which many US states have permitted the cultivation of industrial hemp, especially for medicinal use.
The state officials have made hemp cultivation legal as that would make hemp an additional cash crop for the farmers there, as the Federal Farm bill of 2018 has excluded hemp from the list of “dangerous controlled substances.” This enables states to start their hemp-cultivation programs, and the LDAF would provide a license to cultivators, track acreage, monitor insect crops and finally destroy plants having a high percentage of THC, as the limit of THC would be set at 0.3 percent. Commissioner Strain expects that the government may allow the THC component to go up to 0.349 percent “to give growers a little wiggle room.” Cultivators with a slightly higher percentage of THC would be given some relief by the state department. However, if the cultivators repeatedly or deliberately try to bypass the regulations and grow crops with high THC they would be liable to criminal prosecution.
The seeds would need certification from the state, or a credible third party agency as this would act as a guarantee against poor quality seeds and crops would also need to be protected against invasive species. The strain has made a rough estimate of about 100 to 200 interested growers and 60000 to 80000 acres to be brought under cultivation. However, licenses would be provided only after criminal background checks, as the program would need careful implementation and regulation. State Senator Francis Thompson seemed to be confident about the LDAF and their efforts. A lot of hopes are being placed on Strain to get the legislation passed as the Joint Agriculture Committee was short of a quorum to have the State’s program framework approved.