INDIANAPOLIS—On Thursday, the Senate approved a conference committee report for Senate Enrolled Act (SEA) 357, a proposal authored by State Senator Richard D. Young (D-Milltown) that permits the cultivation and production of industrial hemp in Indiana.
Sen. Young said he is pleased to see this proposal succeed because it can be a vital economic development tool for farmers and manufacturers once the federal government decides to end its prohibition onhemp.
“This is also an extraordinary opportunity for Indiana’s manufacturing sector,” said Sen. Young. “While the cultivation and production of industrial hemp will create jobs in the agricultural sector, the current costs of importing and transporting hemp from countries like Canada prevent our manufacturers from really prospering while making hemp products. Producing hemp in the state will cut those costs and help our manufacturers create jobs.”
Southern Indiana produced industrial hemp rope as part of the war effort during World War II when the United States encouraged all farmers to grow hemp. However, the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 erroneously lumped industrial hemp with marijuana and outlawed production of either, despite their differences.
Sen. Young noted that hemp is also very practical. Hemp can be harvested just 120 days after planting and it doesn’t require any certain climate to grow. It is a very hardy plant and naturally resistant to pests, eliminating the need for pesticides and herbicides. Hemp and its products are also 100 percent biodegradable. Hemp can be used to create a variety of different products like food, paper, fuel, textiles and plastics.
SEA 357 also sets additional provisions providing for appropriate oversight from the Office of the Indiana State Chemist and Seed Commissioner, as well as the Indiana State Police. Individuals interested in growing hemp would be required to obtain a license and would be subject to periodic inspections.
“This is an opportunity for Indiana to be on the forefront of developing an agricultural commodity that will put Indiana on the map and allow our farmers to grow and profit from industrial hemp,” said Sen. Young.
After the original proposal was passed unanimously by the Senate, the House of Representatives added language during the committee process that would regulate the storage of various domestic transportation fuels, such as fuels containing ethanol. However, Sen. Young was able to remove that language in the conference committee process and restore the proposal to its original form.
The final conference committee report for SEA 357 was approved by the Senate by a unanimous vote, and the act will now be sent to the governor for his signature, veto, or passage into law without his signature.
Sen. Young represents Senate District 47 which encompasses portions of Crawford, Dubois, Harrison, Orange, Perry and Washington counties. For more information on Sen. Young, his legislative agenda or other State Senate business, call 1-800-382-9467 or visit www.IN.gov/s47.