A crucial bill for hemp has passed in Indiana, and has now headed to Governor Eric Holcomb for his signature.
“This means we will be off to the next steps in the process of having commercial hemp in 2020,” stated the Midwest Hemp Council’s page; with the comment attributed to the Office of Indiana State Chemist.
The Council says SB 516 passed the House with a vote of 94-3.
Senate Bill 516 will enable parties that have obtained a license from the State Seed Commissioner to grow and handle industrial hemp in the state. It also establishes the Indiana Hemp Advisory Committee, which will advise the Office of the State Seed Commissioner on Indiana’s hemp laws.
SB516 also changes “industrial hemp” references to “hemp” and amends the definition of hemp to conform with the federal definition.
Previously, hemp could be grown in the state, but under very strict conditions. According to VoteHemp, just 5 acres was under cultivation last year. Apparently, 25 acres was under cultivation via Purdue University’s hemp project this year under provisions in the 2014 Farm Bill.
Under that bill, the Office of Indiana State Chemist says it had seen around 20-30 applicants up until early this year. When the new rules are in place, it expects up to one thousand applicants. More than 100,000 Hoosiers are employed in Indiana’s agricultural sector, and more than 14 million acres of the state are designated as farmland
Indiana’s research program will be no more one year after the USDA has administrative rules approved, leaving grower and handler classifications as the two types of license allowed in Indiana.
Currently there are no processors in the state.
As to whether Governor Holcomb will sign SB516 into law, that looks pretty much assured. While he didn’t appear to have much appetite for Senate Bill 516 last year, it was overwhelmingly passed in the Senate with the Governor’s support in February. The passing of the 2018 Farm Bill, which declassified the crop as a Schedule I substance and classified it as an agricultural commodity, was what changed the Governor’s stance on the issue.
Assuming Governor Holcomb gives the nod, the next steps will be to populate the Indiana Hemp Advisory Committee and put together the Administrative Rules to regulate the new law. This and the Indiana Plan will need to be submitted to the USDA by December 31 this year.