INDIANAPOLIS — State Sen. Randy Head, R-Logansport, authored Senate Bill 516, the legislation that permits Hoosier farmers to grow industrial hemp.

He attended the Hemp Victory Tour in Indianapolis to celebrate hemp’s future in the state.

“The 2018 farm bill took hemp off of the controlled substances list,” he explained. “It said growing industrial hemp was legal.

“The significance is Indiana has some of the best ground on the planet for growing hemp. It has a lot of applications for fiber and food. It can be another cash crop for Indiana farmers.

“I want us to catch up to Kentucky and become the hemp capitol of the U.S. We can do that in a way that does not promote or allow recreational marijuana as part of the industry. I’ve tailored the bill with that aim.”

The next step of the journey is to create a solid set of hemp regulations in the state.

The inaugural Indiana Hemp Advisory Committee meeting on Aug. 1 will be the first step to doing so.

The goal is to create a regulatory structure that maintains the integrity of hemp market while also encouraging farmers and entrepreneurs to invest in the state, said Justin Swanson, president of the Midwest Hemp Council.

“I think we need to be open minded going forward, if we need to tweak the plan,” Head said.

“We’re working with the state police to make sure law enforcement concerns are accounted for. Hemp growers want to cooperate with law enforcement. They want to grow something legally.

“Getting that word out there is really important to the health of the industry. This is an agricultural product. It’s not intoxicating. We need to keep pushing that message forward.”

Head also said the industry needs to continue hemp research to determine best management practices.

“We need plans for the future,” he said. “We need to develop markets. We just need to keep going.”

Erica Quinlan can be reached at 800-426-9438, ext. 193, or equinlan@agrinews-pubs.com. Follow her on Twitter at: @AgNews_Quinlan.

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