Gov. Walker reacts to hemp farming bill proposal

Cropped Photo: Barbetorte / CC BY-SA 3.0
Cropped Photo: Barbetorte / CC BY-SA 3.0(WNDU)
Published: Oct. 10, 2017 at 9:53 AM CDT
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Republican lawmakers in Wisconsin have just introduced a new bill that would allow farmers to grow hemp, not marijuana, hemp, stressing the plant shouldn't be confused for the other form of cannabis.

"Several decades ago our state was one of the top hemp producers in the nation. Unfortunately, for nearly 60 years, farmers have been prohibited from growing the safe, useful, and non psycho-active crop because of its relation to marijuana," says State Senator Patrick Testin, who along with Representative Jesse Kremer introduced legislature known as the Farm Freedom Act.

"We hope that this hearing will clarify any misconceptions associated with hemp and demonstrate the opportunities that this crop could make available," says Testin.

Hemp and marijuana are both forms of cannabis, but according to the FDA hemp lacks enough THC, marijuana's active ingredient, to get people high.

The plants grown couldn't contain more than 1 percent THC.

Hemp is mostly used in fibrous ways to make a variety of products, including clothing, rope, food and plastics.

During a stop at Cadott High School Tuesday, Governor Scott Walker was showing his support for school aid and shared he had some concerns about the hemp legislation.

"It's early in the process and it's certainly something we'll look at. Overall, looking at this I have a concern in anything that would lead to legalization, mainly because as we fight opioid and heroin abuse across the state, one of the things I hear for public health and law enforcement and others is anything that's a gateway into some of these other areas is a big, big concern. We hear it from small towns to big cities and everywhere in between," says Walker.

Concern aside, Testin says the bill would change the industry for farmers.

"The message from a united agricultural community is this; we've lead the nation in hemp production in the past. It's time Wisconsin lead again," says Testin.

Under the Wisconsin bill, the State Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection could issue licenses to farmers looking to grow industrial hemp.

People with drug convictions wouldn't be eligible.

The bill still needs to go before the house and senate, then to the governor's desk for approval.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A legislative committee is set to consider a bill that would allow farmers to grow industrial hemp in Wisconsin.

The Senate agriculture committee was scheduled to hold a public hearing on the Republican measure Tuesday morning.

The bill would require anyone who wants to grow hemp to get a state license. People with drug convictions wouldn't be eligible for licenses. Plants couldn't contain more than 1 percent THC, marijuana's active ingredient.

The Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation and the Wisconsin Farmers Union have both registered in favor of the bill. No groups have registered against it.

Wisconsin produced three quarters of domestic hemp during World War II before demand plummeted and China took over the market.

At least 30 states have passed legislation allowing hemp cultivation.