One of the remaining USA hemp holdout states, Louisiana, has officially jumped on the nation’s industrial hemp revival bandwagon.
Governor John Bel Edwards has signed off on HB491 late last week, which recognises industrial hemp as an agricultural commodity and authorizes the cultivation, processing, and transportation of the crop in accordance with the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (2018 Farm Bill).
Championed by Rep. Clay Schexnayder and backed by dozens of sponsors, Louisiana’s Senate recently voted 34-2 in favour of the bill, which not only legalises the cultivation and processing of hemp, but also tackles how businesses in the state can sell cannabidiol (CBD) based products.
HB491 authorizes individuals licensed by the state’s Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) to cultivate and process the crop. LDAF will adopt, administer and enforce rules and regulations. It will also create a state plan in consultation with the attorney general and governor, which will be submitted to the U.S. federal government. LDAF will be required to test all industrial hemp crops prior to harvest to ensure THC levels do not exceed 0.3%
The Agricultural Chemistry and Seed Commission will be authorised to develop criteria for seed approval, develop sampling and testing procedures, and hold hearings on violations.
Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain believes hemp could be grown in Louisiana starting next year.
HB491 also clarifies that production of hemp and cannabidiol (CBD) products for consumption are subject to inspection by the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH). Cannabidiol is already sold widely in the state, but hemp-derived CBD was still considered an illegal product as up until the point Governor Edwards signed HB491, state law did not distinguish between hemp and marijuana.
Cannabidiol started flooding into the state after the 2018 Farm Bill was signed off on, which classes hemp an agricultural product.
Very shortly after Governor Edwards signed HB491 into law last week, the Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control (ATC) announced it will soon make applications available to retailers wanting to sell cannabidiol-based products.
According to VoteHemp, Louisiana was only one of nine states to have not enacted hemp legislation by the end of last year. And like Louisiana, most of the other holdout states have made solid progress towards re-embracing hemp this year.