The 2014 Farm Bill continues to put Hemp in the News. The bill permits universities and state agriculture departments to set up pilot programs for growing and researching industrial hemp. But no changes were made to the Controlled Substances Act, which means hemp is not yet entirely legal.
Russ Baer of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration says although the Farm Bill addresses industrial hemp, it still has the same status as marijuana in the Controlled Substances Act.
Many states have hemp pilot programs, including North Dakota, but hemp farmers need to acquire approval from the North Dakota Department of Agriculture in order to start growing industrial hemp, according to Doug Goehring, the state agriculture commissioner.
Goehring says this is due to the fact that hemp is still classified as a Schedule I controlled substance in the U.S. and he wants to protect hemp farmers and producers from potential conflict with the law.
Last year North Dakota grew its first legal hemp crops in decades. There were five pilot programs in the state, which together amounted to 70 acres. Of the 17 applications submitted to his department, only 5 were filled out correctly, but this year Goehring is expecting an increase in applications because the 2016 crops were so successful.
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