Strict rules apply for hemp pilot programs

Growing hemp for research purposes in the United States is not a simple task, says an American hemp advocate.

This spring, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency seized a shipment of imported industrial hemp seed, which was designated for research projects in Kentucky.

The Kentucky Department of Agriculture filed a lawsuit in mid-May, claiming the seizure was illegal because in February president Barack Obama signed the U.S. farm bill, which featured an amendment permitting the growing of industrial hemp for research and development.

On May 22, the federal government returned 120 kilograms of hemp seeds, imported from Italy, to the state agriculture department. The seeds will be used for six research projects. Kentucky legislators have touted hemp as a crop that could re-invigorate the state’s agricultural economy.

Lauren Stansbury, spokesperson for Vote Hemp, an industrial hemp lobby group, said farmers in other states who want to grow hemp for research face an uphill battle.

The farm bill amendment for industrial hemp says only state agriculture departments or universities can initiate research projects, and only in states that have passed legislation permitting hemp production.

“There are very strict parameters in which these pilot programs can proceed.”

Stansbury said Kentucky and Colorado are pursuing hemp research.

“They are the only states, to my knowledge, that have moved forward with these R&D pilot programs.”

Stansbury estimated that Colorado farmers have already planted 1,000 acres of industrial hemp.

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