In this Oct. 5, 2013 photo, volunteers harvest hemp at a farm in Springfield, Colo. during the first known harvest of industrial hemp in the U.S. since the 1950s. America is one of hemp’s fastest-growing markets, with imports largely coming from China and Canada. Most of that is hemp seed and hemp oil, which finds its way into granola bars, soaps, lotions and even cooking oil. (AP Photo/P. Solomon Banda)
The Oregon Department of Agriculture this week began accepting applications for industrial hemp production.
State officials hope the timing of the announcement means prospective hemp farmers will be able to plant their crops by spring.
State agriculture officials have spent months drafting rules for commercial hemp production. The rules spell out how hemp may be produced and processed, as well as licensing fees for people interested in growing and handling the crop.
Though advocates are happy to see Oregon moving forward with an industrial hemp program, they worry law is too restrictive. They argue that Oregon’s minimum acreage requirements, restrictions on the use of hemp seed and limits on tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the psychoactive component found in marijuana, make Oregon less competitive in the global hemp market.
Eighteen states, including Oregon, have laws defining industrial hemp as distinct from marijuana and have removed barriers to its production, said Lauren Stansbury, a spokeswoman for the Hemp Industries Association. Only three states – Colorado, Kentucky and Vermont — planted crops this year.
— Noelle Crombie