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A new opportunity for Indiana agriculture
Start Date: 2/28/2014Start Time: 8:00 AM
End Date: 2/28/2014End Time: 8:00 AM
Entry Description
This week in the Agriculture and Rural Development Committee, we heard from several people who gave varied perspectives supporting a bill that would allow the growth of Industrial Hemp in Indiana. The premise of Senate Bill (SB) 357 is fairly unique within the U.S., as only nine other states have passed similar legislation legalizing the production of industrial hemp. 

By allowing the State Seed Commissioner to license the cultivation and production of hemp, the plant can be used to create more than 25,000 different products, from fabrics to medication. Bringing a new crop to the state - especially one with such a wide range of uses – provides an opportunity to improve the quality of life for Hoosiers and boost our economy.

Hemp is a great option as a rotational crop for Hoosier farmers and, because such a low number of states have authorized its growth, Indiana would have a head start on continuing research into industrial hemp’s uses. 

One common misconception about industrial hemp is that it can be used like the recreational drug marijuana. That is completely false, considering that marijuana contains more than 10 times the amount of Tetra-hydro-cannabinol (THC), the hallucinogenic component, than the level found in the industrial hemp.  By definition, industrial hemp’s THC levels are insignificant and never reach above the federal legal limit of 0.3 percent, while the THC level in marijuana ranges from 4 to 25 percent.

During committee, two mothers testified about each of their sons and how they suffer from severe epilepsy. Epilepsy is a medical condition that causes seizures, ranging in severity depending on each person and their diagnosis. One mother said her son’s epilepsy has been resistant to medication, forcing them to look for a new way to minimize the frequency and strength of her son’s seizures. Industrial hemp is a very encouraging avenue in terms of finding new treatments because it contains cannabidiol (CBD), a powerful anti-inflammatory. 

In one state, a family found hope from the hemp plant. CBD oil - which can be produced from industrial hemp - was used to help a 6-year-old girl suffering 300 grand mal seizures a week to reduce her seizures to only two or three a month. This dramatic decrease has allowed her to walk and talk again, drastically improving her quality of life.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           
Besides creating medical treatments, industrial hemp could positively impact our state’s economy by allowing us to produce it domestically. The U.S. currently imports industrial hemp and is the only industrialized nation that does not allow domestic production. According to a Forbes report, U.S. retail sales of hemp-based products may exceed $500 million per year. 

Products made from industrial hemp include fabrics, carpeting, home furnishings, construction and insulation materials, auto parts, animal bedding, nutritional supplements, cosmetics and other textiles. These items, when made with hemp, have proven to be stronger and more durable than when made with traditional materials. 

SB 357 has passed through the Senate and is on its way through the House. If this bill passes through the General Assembly and receives the governor’s signature, with the approval of the federal government hemp production could begin as early as this year. I hope this product’s positive economic impact alongside the medical triumphs has an opportunity to be received in our great state.  

-30-

State Rep. Don Lehe serves as Chairman of the Agriculture and Rural Development Committee. He also serves on the Environmental Affairs Committee and the Public Health Committee.  Rep. Lehe represents portions of White, Cass, Carroll, Clinton and Tippecanoe Counties.

Contact Information:
Name: Maggie Johnson
Phone: 317-232-9693
Email: maggie.johnson@iga.in.gov
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Entry Type:
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Entry Category:
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  • IN.gov Category:
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  • Agency Name
    House of Representatives Republican Caucus

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