IN Lawmakers Talk Farming Hemp

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Indiana lawmakers spent Monday  discussing a rather controversial subject… industrial hemp; it’s a topic of Summer Study.

We went to an industrial hemp farm that Purdue University owns. Industrial hemp looks like marijuana, but it is actually a different type of cannabis, according to Purdue University experts.

Industrial hemp will not get you high. Lawmakers are talking about growing and producing this stuff across the state.

Since 2015, Leah Sandler has cared for these cannabis plants. As part of Purdue University’s hemp project, her goal is figure out through research how to best grow hemp in Indiana.

Leah Sandler, a Graduate Student that works on hemp, said Monday “From my three Summers of research, if you can get in, in May, and you don’t have heavy rains, it will establish well.”

State lawmakers toured this farm, on Monday too.

Ronald Turco, is head of Purdue University’s Agronomy program. He says his team provides research to lawmakers.

But, he heard some concerns from lawmakers Monday.

Ronald Turco, Department Head of Agronomy at Purdue University said “Worries about  comparison to marijuana. We’ve shown them how we’re different. How you do things different. How hemp is a different material and how it’s grown, versus marijuana.”

There’s no doubt you can use hemp for things like paper, animal bedding or even eat the seeds. Turco says the other question he hears…is  Indiana hungry for industrial hemp?

Turco explained “We think there’s a market for it, but It just has to develop.”

Summer Study Committee member, State Senator, Randy Head, says our Department of AG isn’t really set up as a regulatory agency, which would have to be figured out. He also says money might have to come from the state budget. He’d like to see lawmakers create a state system similar to what Kentucky has today.

State Senator Randy Head, a Republican from Logansport said “Anyone that wants to grow, they have to have a permit issued by their state government. They have to have GPS coordinates for their growing operations so if the police want to come in and inspect, they know exactly where to go. Then anything not being grown at those GPS coordinates is illegal.”

Indiana’s Prosecuting Attorneys Council said they’re neutral about industrial hemp in Indiana, but…

David Powell, Executive Director of the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council, said  “Our major concern is can it be regulated? Is it feasible? Does it make sense for Indiana? What’s it look like? Our biggest concern is the only real market in place for marijuana is the illicit drug market. We just want to make sure safeguards are in place.”

The people who work the hemp farm tell me they’re going to continue to work with lawmakers.

To learn more about Purdue University’s hemp farm project, click here https://purduehemp.org/

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