Lawmakers Push for Hemp Comeback in Wisconsin

February 27, 2017 04:34 PM

Republican lawmakers want to help Wisconsin's once-dominant hemp industry make a comeback, giving farmers the chance to add a versatile and hardy plant to their fields.

Rep. Jesse Kremer and Sen. Patrick Testin are circulating a bill to legalize production of industrial hemp, which has many uses.

Wisconsin was once a leading producer of hemp. At its peak during World War II, the state produced three quarters of the hemp grown in the country before demand plummeted and China took control of the market. But states across the country are rejoining the race and Wisconsin lawmakers want in.

Freshman Sen. Patrick Testin said he initially had some concerns because many people don't differentiate between marijuana and hemp. Both are forms of cannabis, but hemp won't get a person high because it doesn't have enough THC, marijuana's active ingredient.

"It's an opportunity to bring an industry back to the state of Wisconsin," he said.

Hemp has a growing number of uses. Hemp fiber strengthens fabric and insulation while its oil and seeds are used in cosmetics and cereal. The plant is also showing up in high capacity batteries and car door panels.

"It has come a long way from its original heyday, so to speak," said Kremer's spokesman, Nik Rettinger.

The bill, which has bipartisan support, would require anyone who wants to grow hemp to be licensed by the state through a program overseen by the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. People who have drug convictions wouldn't be eligible for licenses. It also includes a provision to ensure a licensed producer's plants don't contain more than 1 percent THC.

University of Wisconsin-Madison professor and horticulturist Irwin Goldman says hemp crops would be a great addition for the state's farmers because it would add variety and is a sturdy, low-maintenance plant well-suited to Wisconsin's climate.

The federal government in 2014 passed the Farm Bill, which gave states the right to run hemp research programs. At least thirty states — including neighboring Minnesota, Michigan and Illinois — have passed legislation allowing cultivation of hemp, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Some states, including Oregon, struggled to launch hemp production the way lawmakers envisioned because they were initially short on seeds. The Wisconsin proposal would let producers use seeds certified in Wisconsin or elsewhere, language Rettinger said was included to avoid hurdles like those in other states.

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Spell Check

Jasen Joseph Hylbert
Verona, WI
3/16/2017 02:59 PM

  Biofuels have an incessant demand, and given the need for family growth friendly infrastructure such as desalinization plants, water pipelines etcetera biofuels need not cause any decrease in fossil fuel consumption. Cannabis seeds are a viable source of biodeisel, and the rest of the plant can be used to produce celulosic ethanol. As livestock and game feed and as a growing market for health food demand, cannabis seed will be a crop with real value which is not nearly as dependant on subsidies as crops such as cotton. The neighsayers of cannabis' potential are short seller sell out types and should rightfully be considered domestic terrorists. While unhumanistic as a whole and generally not worthy of emulating, China's governmant has at least been smart enough to support efficient industries such as hemp rather than suppressing them such as has happened by anti free market riggers here in the United States of America. The reason cannabis was banned by the FDR administration and the bloated beaurocracy of alcohol prohibition was for 100% corrupt reasons. Beggary and theivery from what is best described as an uninvited butler class which in their culturally inferior trait of a lack of acknowledgement of the basic concept of private property upon which habeus corpus concepts are built upon attempted to steal from all other members of the society of the United States - rich, middle class, and poor alike. Many more feral hemp plants were destroyed via our tax dollars during cannabis prohibition than were herbal cannabis plants. While such wasteful spending happened under the false pretense of attempting to prevent access to herbal cannabis, it in fact happened for purposes of rigging markets for herbal cannabis sellers whose commodity could be grown by a window by all of the users were it not for what amounts to a bloated and inefficient casino style welfare program for herbal cannabis sellers. I have always opposed cannabis prohibition

Green Fields Project
Somewhere, WI
2/28/2017 08:06 AM

  I would consider growing this. But first a few questions. Worldwide, there is already a glut of Hemp fibre on the market. What do I do with his crop once it's harvested? After reading a few other articles it seems that a lot of the plants value comes from the availability of buyers. I would hate to have an expensive crop ready to harvest and have nowhere to go with it. With that, expect a push for the taxpayer to fund new processing facilities. There is going to be a very intense push for hemp fibre but be careful. Trendy things tend to invoke a great deal of waste and fraud. Hemp and it's cousin canabis, is surrounded by a peculiar culture. This means that there will be lot of excitement, and a lot of lies. The first lie may be the allowable amount of THC in industrial hemp. The current law under consideration says 1%THC. The law in Europe, where hemp is widely grown, the law only allows a THC content of 0.03%. Any more, and the government orders the destruction of the entire field. Compensation? Who's going to pay for that?


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