A display about products made from hemp that was shown at the Alabama State House in 2016 when lawmakers passed a bill authorizing research on growing hemp for industrial uses. (Mike Cason | [email protected])
By AL.COM By Mike Cason | [email protected]
People and organizations interested in growing industrial hemp in Alabama can now apply to take part in a research program administered by the state.
The Alabama Department of Agriculture & Industries is accepting applications from eligible producers, farmers and universities interested in growing industrial hemp. Those who want to process hemp can also apply.
Congress authorized research on industrial hemp in 2014 and the Alabama Legislature followed suit with a bill in 2016.
It has taken until now to develop a regulatory program to allow the research program to get started.
Industrial hemp is a form of cannabis, the same plant species as marijuana. Industrial hemp has much less THC, the intoxicating substance in marijuana. The plant fibers are used to make a wide variety of products.
Agriculture Commissioner Rick Pate said the pilot program will develop critical research data on industrial hemp production.
“The Department’s objective is to establish a strong research pilot program under the 2014 Farm Bill provisions, which will allow producers to consider industrial hemp as a future alternative crop,” Pate said in a news release.
Applications can be downloaded. The department will receive applications through Feb. 22.
While Congress authorized the research program with the farm bill in 2014, it took another major step to advance industrial hemp production last year.
The 2018 farm bill declassifies hemp as a Schedule 1 drug and makes it an agricultural commodity, not a controlled substance.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture will begin drafting procedural rules for industrial hemp once the partial federal government shutdown ends.
The Alabama Department of Agriculture & Industries will work in consultation with the governor’s office, the attorney general’s office and law enforcement agencies to create a plan of action for industrial hemp under the 2018 Farm Bill.