Oregon Farmer Gets First Hemp Growing License in 75 Years

Written by on February 23, 2015 in Government, Policies with 0 Comments

CHRISTINA SARICH | Naturalsociety | 21st Feb 2015

HempFarmingFinally, a farmer in Eagle Point, Oregon has received the first permit to legally grow industrial hemp that has been issued by state regulators for over 75 years.

Edgar Winters and his non-profit group, Oregon Agriculture Food & Rural Consortium will be able to plant their 25-acre field with hemp this spring, and harvest it by late summer.

Though Winters is not sure where he will get the hemp seed to plant his first crops, since it will have to be imported, he is optimistic. Importing hempseed requires the approval of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The Oregon Department of Agriculture and Oregon State University are working with the DEA currently to facilitate this process.

“We are in a position to do 40 tons a day at our processing mill,” said Winters, “We’ve got our ducks in a row.”

Hemp seed imports were illegally seized by DEA agents previously, even when President Obama gave permission for a handful of states to grow hemp as part of a limited run in the FARM bill. Kentucky sued the DEA for acting against federal law in their confiscation of hemp seeds meant to be planted for a legal research project.

AR-150209892.thumbnail“It’s ridiculous, if hemp is not being grown in the United States, how are we going to grow it without seeds?” Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., tells U.S. News. “You can buy a granola bar – in whichever city you’re in – with hemp seeds on it. Everything made of hemp is legal to bring into this country.”

For Winters, Canada, Russia, Hungary, Australia and New Zealand are possible sources for his hemp seed, as long as DEA agents don’t interfere.

“We have to import to get started,” Winters, told the agricultural publication Capital Press. “We don’t want our farmers to sit around another year.”

The legislature legalized hemp in 2009, but the state dragged their feet in writing rules concerning the crop until the feds signaled it wouldn’t crack down on growers. The state Department of Agriculture finished the rules earlier this year and said it was ready to issue licenses, costing $1,500 for three years.

Hemp has only a negligible amount of the chemical that causes a high among marijuana users, so DEA agents really have no business seizing it, even though it is clearly legal to grow.

As many as 18 states, including Oregon, have removed barriers to full-scale hemp production, but starting an entire industry will take a little more effort.

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