INDIANAPOLIS—On Monday, the Senate approved Senate Bill (SB) 357, a proposal authored by State Senator Richard D. Young (D-Milltown) that would legalize the cultivation and production of industrial hemp in Indiana.
Sen. Young said that hemp is a multipurpose crop that will open a new sector of Indiana’s agricultural economy.
“Hemp can be used to create food, paper, fuel, textiles and plastics,” said Sen. Young. “With all of its potential, legalizing the cultivation and production of industrial hemp will mean jobs, economic benefits and opportunity for Indiana.”
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% biodegradable.
“Indiana was once a leader in the production of industrial hemp,” said Young. “This measure will reopen a sector of the Indiana agricultural economy that will greatly benefit the state.”
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.
SB 357 also sets additional provisions providing for appropriate oversight from the Office of the Indiana State Chemist and Seed Commissioner at Purdue University, 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. Any applicants for a license would be subject to a state and federal background check and would be ineligible if they were found to have a drug-related felony or misdemeanor in the last decade.
Ten states, including Kentucky and West Virginia, have recognized the many benefits of hemp and taken steps to legalize its cultivation with an appropriate amount of oversight. The Indiana Farm Bureau has also endorsed industrial hemp and has supported legislative efforts to legalize its production.
With unanimous support, senators from both sides of the aisle acknowledged the measure’s economic development opportunities. It now moves to the House of Representatives for further consideration.
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.