Industrial hemp legislation that had already been passed by Kansas’s Senate, passed the state’s House 123-1 last week.
Sponsored by Senator Dan Kerschen, who is also a farmer, Senate Bill 263 would enact the Alternative Crop Research Act, enabling the Kansas Department of Agriculture (KDA) to grow and cultivate industrial hemp and promote related research and development. The Department will be able to act alone, or work with institutions of higher education and other parties will be able to grow hemp under the supervision of the KDA.
If the KDA decides to “go it alone”, it would be required to establish an advisory board within the Department to review and recommend applications for pilot projects and research proposals to the Secretary of Agriculture.
The legislation covers all hemp products, including cloth, cordage (rope and such), fiber, food, fuel, paint, paper, particleboard, plastics, seed, seed meal and seed oil.
The bill would also amend the state’s criminal law, to exclude industrial hemp from the definition of “marijuana,” (and rightly so given they are different plants) when cultivated, possessed, or used for activities authorized by the Alternative Crop Research Act.
Kansans For Hemp said the House vote represented a “huge step”.
As we mentioned in late February, the Senate voted in favour of the bill 36:3.
Once signed into law, the Act would require the KDA to develop rules and regulations by December 31, 2018. The KDA would then need to report to the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources and the House Committee on Agriculture by January 14, 2019, on the processes that would enable participants to grow and process industrial hemp in Kansas and then sell it outside of the state.
However, the Bill isn’t quite ready for the Governor’s signature yet it seems – as it was amended by the House, it will now need to go back to the Senate for a final vote; which appears could have happened today.
The Act will initially authorize the KDA to establish a pilot program in Russell County, with pilots in other counties to be determined by the Department.