Indiana lawmakers to study industrial hemp farming

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INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — State Rep. Jim Lucas says he wants farmers across the state to have the option of growing industrial hemp.

The USDA has designated that industrial hemp comes from cannabis plants with low THC levels and is used only for industrial purposes.

Supporters praise the versatile seeds and stalks of the plant. Hemp is often used for its light but strong fibers.

“One of the neatest things I saw was a gentleman who owns an auto parts manufacturing facility here in Indiana. They’re making door panels out of industrial hemp. I’ve seen cups, clothing — lots of clothing being made from hemp. Insulation in houses, literally thousands of uses for this plant,” said Lucas, a Republican from Seymour.

For two years, Lucas has pushed to allow farmers to grow industrial hemp in Indiana: “So, why aren’t we doing this?” 

His hemp bill got traction last session, but it didn’t make it out of the legislature.

Lucas knows uncertainty and doubt are swirling.

“It’s amazing. Stigma and ignorance. Those are the two road blocks, obstacles I keep encountering as people don’t know about hemp. They think ‘I don’t want to grow something you can get high off of.’ You can’t get high off industrial hemp. The federal government has it limited to .03 percent THC content or less.” 

Lawmakers will study Industrial hemp this summer.

“That’s great,” Lucas explained. “I mean it shows we’re making progress; we’re moving in the right direction. After my past experience with summer study on constitutional carry last year, I’m not completely sold that this is going to be the end-all, be-all.” 

Lucas told us what he hopes to see from the summer study:

To educate people, the naysayers. I thought we were making great progress, which according to the numbers, we did make great progress last year. It made it out of the House side, unanimously out of committee and the House. Then it went over to the Senate and tried to tweak it. I know the governor had some discomfort with it and wanted to slow things down a bit, which is fine. That’s not as fast as I would like to move, but obviously, he made things happen from his end. So now, we want to assuage all of his concerns and educate people and show them why this is the right thing for Indiana to be doing.” 

Lucas said farmers in parts of Kentucky are growing industrial hemp, and he believes the product could mean big business and jobs Indiana families.

“I literally have many, many investors wanting to invest tens of millions of dollars right now in Indiana to process it, to grow it, to commercialize it.  End product uses. There are literally so many jobs that we could be creating,” Lucas explained.

Lucas said he has already started to work on industrial hemp legislation for next session. 

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