Indiana seed commissioner seeks federal hemp OK

Indiana's seed commissioner has asked the federal government for permission to allow Hoosier farmers to begin growing industrial hemp under new state regulations.

Seed Commissioner Robert Waltz said Thursday that industrial hemp cannot be legally grown in Indiana until the state obtains federal approval.

Although the Indiana Legislature approved a measure allowing hemp to be grown in the state, the state still needs permission from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Waltz says the approval process could take several months, and even then hemp growers and handlers will need a license and have to adhere to stringent state regulations.

Hemp is marijuana's non-intoxicating cousin but it cannot be grown under federal law without permission. Many products made from hemp, such as oils, paper, building materials and clothing, are legal.

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.

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