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Lawmakers advance bill allowing industrial hemp crops

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A state Senate committee has approved a bill that would allow Indiana farmers to grow Industrial hemp crops.

Supporters clapped and cheered Friday after the Senate committee on agriculture and natural resources voted 7-0 in favor of the bill.

If passed by the full House and Senate and signed by the governor, Indiana still would need to apply for a federal permit to grow the crop, which is used to make paper, clothing and building materials.

Hemp is similar to marijuana but has a much smaller amount of the latter's psychoactive compound.

The bill also would declassify industrial hemp as marijuana in Indiana.

Kentucky passed similar legislation to allow farmers to grow industrial hemp crops last year.

Industrial hemp was widely grown in the United States in the 1800s, but federal drug laws designed to regulate and prevent marijuana use all but put an end to hemp production in the 20th century. It is still considered a contolled substance by the federal government, but at least 10 states have made cultivation of industrial hemp legal.

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  • It's About Time
    The US is the only developed nation that fails to cultivate industrial hemp as an economic crop, according to the Congressional Resource Service. Farmers worldwide grow hemp commercially for fiber, seed, and oil for use in a variety of industrial and consumer products including food and clothing. The US market for hemp products has a highly dedicated and growing demand base. The American Farm Bureau recently endorsed ending the federal prohibition on industrial hemp at its annual meeting in January. Early drafts of the Declaration of Independence, Betsy Ross' flag, and the sails on Christopher Columbus' ships were all made of hemp.

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