Tags: Marijuana Legalization | US State Facts | Indiana | industrial hemp | farming | players

Legalizing Weed: Key Players in Indiana's Legalization of Industrial Hemp Farming

By    |   Wednesday, 13 Jan 2016 01:56 PM

Indiana is among several states that have taken steps toward legalizing hemp production for industrial purposes in recent years. Until the 2014 Farm Bill passed, hemp production had been banned at the federal level for several decades. This is because of hemp's relationship to marijuana. However, hemp itself is not a drug but is instead used in the manufacture of several products. Other countries overturned their bans in recent decades, leading companies in the United States to import the plant. With many states wanting to reap the economic benefits of industrial hemp production, several have begun legalizing hemp production.

In Indiana, the following people have contributed to this effort.

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1. Rep. Don Lehe, R-Brookston
Rep. Don Lehe authored a bill that would have separated hemp from marijuana in terms of the legal definition. This would distinguish hemp from marijuana, because while the two are related, hemp doesn't have the intoxicating properties of marijuana. It would also remove some of the restrictions on hemp farming as an industrial crop. As quoted by the Capital Press, Lehe said: "There's some disagreement about just how close it is to marijuana. We just need more clarification about the differences." This was just after the bill failed to make it through the state legislature.

2. State Sen. Karen Tallian, D-Ogden Dunes
State Sen. Karen Tallian was one of the sponsors of Senate Bill 357, which allowed the growing of hemp in Indiana, as long as it was overseen by the state seed commissioner and complied with federal laws, The Courier-Journal reported. Tallian touted the economic benefits of legalizing hemp farming, saying "This could be the biggest jobs bill all session."

3. Illinois Gov. Mike Pence
Illinois Gov. Mike Pence signed into law SB 357 in 2014, paving the way for industrial hemp farming to begin in the state.

4. Robert Waltz, Indiana Seed Commissioner
In 2014, Robert Waltz asked the federal government for approval for Indiana farmers to grow hemp as an industrial crop, The Courier-Journal reported. The state had recently legalized the practice but still needed federal approval. Waltz told The Courier-Journal, "We are now in a waiting mode. Without federal approval, nothing will happen."

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5. Jamie Petty, founder, Indiana Hemp Industries Association
Jamie Petty's group has pushed for greater awareness of the value of hemp as an industrial crop and held events to educate the public on the many products that can be made from hemp. In 2015, broadcast station WFYI quoted Petty as saying "This is not marijuana, it's industrial hemp. It's not about smoking it. It's about using it to create materials – textiles or for nutrition."

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Indiana is among several states that have taken steps toward legalizing hemp production for industrial purposes in recent years.
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Wednesday, 13 Jan 2016 01:56 PM
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