Guidelines OK’d for hemp crops in Arkansas


The state Plant Board on Thursday authorized guidelines that will permit Arkansas farmers to develop hemp as portion of a system to assess the marketability of the crop.

The Common Assembly authorized the system in early 2017 but its formal adoption has been sidelined for months.

“I’m content to ultimately see it go via,” Nicholas Dial, president of the Arkansas Hemp Association and co-author of the draft of legislation ultimately authorized by big margins in each the Residence and Senate, mentioned Thursday following the board’s vote.

The board nevertheless should establish when it will start accepting applications to come to be licensed growers.

Residence Bill 1778, now Act 981, designed the industrial hemp system. Only a single Residence member and no senator voted against the bill.

Hemp — a cousin to marijuana — consists of no much more than .three % tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the psychoactive element that provides the “high” from marijuana use. Developing hemp was illegal till the 2014 farm bill authorized by Congress permitted states to set up analysis applications that also would involve private growers of the fiber.

Arkansas is at least the 37th state to approve such a analysis system, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

The guidelines also nevertheless should go via the Legislative Council, a physique of lawmakers that conducts the Legislature’s business enterprise when it is not in session.

The Plant Board had initially authorized guidelines and regulations in March, but issues of Gov. Asa Hutchinson held up the measure for a number of much more weeks, Dial mentioned. “Instead of taking 3 or 4 days, it took two months,” Dial mentioned.

Hutchinson signed off on the guidelines and regulations in mid-May well, which then opened the method to a 30-day period for public comment that ended final week.

Hutchinson let HB1778, and 12 other pieces of legislation, come to be law with out his signature.

“I do not approve of each and every bill that lands on my desk, but my disagreement does not usually rise to the level of a veto,” Hutchinson told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in April 2017, referring to all 13 pieces of legislation he didn’t sign.

The Plant Board, following practically an hour of going via every single provision and contemplating pertinent written comments from the public, adopted the guidelines with out opposition amongst the 13 members who voted Thursday.

“It’s been a extended method,” Dial mentioned, noting the Plant Board has been busy given that final year in dealing with complaints of dicamba harm to crops and other vegetation not tolerant of the herbicide. Dial mentioned he liked the modifications created to the guidelines involving the initially and second occasions the Plant Board deemed them.

But Dial also noted that pending federal legislation could make substantially of the Arkansas operate moot.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., added an amendment to the 2018 farm bill that defines hemp as an agricultural commodity and removes it from the list of federally controlled substances. McConnell’s amendment states the regulators of hemp production and tends to make hemp farmers eligible to apply for crop insurance coverage. Hemp researchers also could apply for grants from the U.S. Division of Agriculture.

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