On January 11, 2016, Rep. Lloyd Arnold (R-Dist. 74) introduced House Bill 1228 requesting an amendment to Indiana’s industrial hemp laws. This bill would remove the federal government’s control to obtain waivers from farmers to raise hemp as a commercial commodity.
Indiana has never set still when it comes to farming. In an average year, soybeans and corn deliver over 10 billion harvested acres of grain. However, increased yields and the decreased need for ethanol and bio-diesel are throwing a wrench into an otherwise healthy agricultural business. As the spring planting season nears, alternatives for profit are front and center. Enter hemp, a strong and valuable product.
Being one of the more conservative states, Indiana is making headlines in its growing acceptance of the once rumored evil plant. Paul Horner, an 89-year old farmer has this to say regarding growing hemp in the state:
“I think it is a great idea. From what I hear, this hemp can be used to make all kinds of things from clothing to plastics and papers, and to be honest, we have more farmland in Indiana than we know what to do with.”
A recent poll conducted by the state Department of Agriculture and Reform Indiana find that a large number of Indiana farmers share Horner’s views.
The Indiana Industrial Hemp Law IC 15-15-13 was signed into law in March 2014 by Governor Pence.
“It’s not like hemp is not grown around the world, and it’s certainly well known we could grow hemp in Indiana. There was really no reason it should have ever been illegal to begin with. I think it’s kind of a miraculous commodity, and it’s foolish we don’t use it,” said Indiana State Senator Richard D. Young, sponsor of the 2014 industrial hemp bill that easily passed the Indiana general assembly.
As soon as research licensing was available in April 2015, Purdue University began researching hemp as an alternative crop. With an entire year now under their belts, Purdue agricultural experts feel confident that Indiana could prove a leader as a hemp growing state.
With planting season just around the corner, Indiana will be a major state to watch for approval or rejection of House Bill 1228. There are already 26 states that have passed legislation separating their states from many of the restrictions of the federal government.