In 2014, Nebraska joined the growing list of states legalizing hemp for commercial and industrial purposes.
Because of a decades-long ban on the production of hemp due to it coming from the same plant as marijuana, United States manufacturers had to import hemp for use in products, such as food and fabric. However, in the past decade several states have begun legalizing hemp because of the positive economic impact.
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The following people played a key role in the effort to support and legalize hemp farming in Nebraska.
1. State Sen. Norman Wallman (D-Cortland)
In 2014, Sen. Norman Wallman introduced LB1001, the bill that legalized industrial hemp farming in Nebraska. Speaking to the Beatrice Daily Sun
, Wallman emphasized the benefits to the state's agricultural community, saying, "It's an alternative crop if farmers want to do something like this. It uses a lot less water than corn. It could be grown where there's less rainfall and irrigation. I think it could definitely be profitable for smaller producers." He also stressed that because hemp is so different from the cannabis used to make marijuana, legalizing hemp did not mean legalizing weed. "This bill is about agriculture. It's not a gateway to legalizing recreational marijuana," he told the news outlet.
2. State Sen. Dave Bloomfield (R-District 17)
Sen. Dave Bloomfield cosigned LB1001 and also emphasized the distinction between hemp and cannabis, telling the Beatrice Daily Sun, "As soon as you say 'industrial hemp,' a lot of people jump to the marijuana conclusion, and we shouldn't think that. We used to grow (hemp) all over the country, then decided we shouldn't anymore but still import the products. Why in the world would we not grow our own?"
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