House gives final approval to pilot hemp program
The House of Representatives gave unanimous approval late Wednesday to a bill authorizing a pilot program for the production and sale of hemp.
Gov. Ned Lamont announced Wednesday night that he would sign the measure in the next few days. The Senate approved the bill last month.
“This legislation will strengthen our efforts to grow our agricultural economy and create jobs, and do so in a responsible manner by opening a competitive market to thousands of Connecticut’s farmers,” Lamont said. “With this program, farmers will have the opportunity to bolster their profits with hemp, and veteran and first-time farmers alike will be attracted to a new and growing market that will offer crop diversification, increased revenue, and expertise in an expanding field.”
The House adopted the bill without debate. Proponents have said it was important to approve the legislation well in advance of the legislature’s June 5 adjournment so farmers could begin planting seeds in June – the start of the growing season.
At least 200 of the state’s more than 6,000 farmers have expressed an interest in growing the crop.
“Hemp has the potential to stabilize the agricultural economy and attract new farmers to the industry while providing consumers with a locally grown product that is in high demand,” said Brian Hurlburt, the state’s agriculture commissioner. “With this vote, we move one giant step closer to the legalization of hemp and all the benefits that it can provide.
The measure allows commercial hemp farming in Connecticut, and calls on the state agriculture department to submit regulations to the federal government for licensing, growing and processing hemp.
The department would also be tasked with crafting guidelines for tracking and inspecting farm land.
Hemp farming is considered a booming industry because the plant, a type of cannabis, produces a non-intoxicating substance known as CBD oil, which is used to treat inflammation, pain and anxiety. Entrepreneurs have incorporated it into lotions, pills, tinctures and candies.
Legislators have said the crop is used in an array of other products, from clothing to motor vehicle parts.
The Connecticut Farm Bureau Association has estimated that an acre of hemp could generate 500 to 1,500 pounds of dried flowers and reap profits of $37,500 to $150,000.
Federal legislation passed in 2014 allowed states to issue hemp-growing permits for research. Last year, a farm bill legalized hemp at the federal level.
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