28 February 2017

Beloit Daily News reports

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Republican lawmakers want to help Wisconsin’s once-dominant hemp industry make a comeback, giving farmers the chance to add a versatile and hardy plant to their fields.

Rep. Jesse Kremer and Sen. Patrick Testin are circulating a bill to legalize production of industrial hemp, which has many uses.

Wisconsin was once a leading producer of hemp. At its peak during World War II, the state produced three quarters of the hemp grown in the country before demand plummeted and China took control of the market. But states across the country are rejoining the race and Wisconsin lawmakers want in.

Freshman Sen. Patrick Testin said he initially had some concerns because many people don’t differentiate between marijuana and hemp. Both are forms of cannabis, but hemp won’t get a person high because it doesn’t have enough THC, marijuana’s active ingredient.

“It’s an opportunity to bring an industry back to the state of Wisconsin,” he said.

Hemp has a growing number of uses. Hemp fiber strengthens fabric and insulation while its oil and seeds are used in cosmetics and cereal. The plant is also showing up in high capacity batteries and car door panels.

“It has come a long way from its original heyday, so to speak,” said Kremer’s spokesman, Nik Rettinger.

The bill, which has bipartisan support, would require anyone who wants to grow hemp to be licensed by the state through a program overseen by the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. People who have drug convictions wouldn’t be eligible for licenses. It also includes a provision to ensure a licensed producer’s plants don’t contain more than 1 percent THC.


Here’s Rep. Jesse Kremer’s press release…

This afternoon Rep. Jesse Kremer (R-Kewaskum) circulated a bill for co-sponsorship that would re-invigorate our agriculture sector, create new manufacturing and tech opportunities and have the potential to create additional jobs and tax revenue.

Industrial hemp, a distinctly different variety of cannabis than its cousin, marijuana, is non-psychoactive.  The Republican Congress’ 2014 Farm Bill gave states permission to begin research on industrial hemp, a material that is stronger than carbon fiber.  Hemp has dozens of high tech, manufacturing and health applications including the replacement of Kevlar in bulletproof vests, a lower cost substitute for graphene in costly high capacity batteries, and non-psychoactive CBD seed oils that are higher in Omega 3 than fish oils.

Rep. Kremer issued the following statement regarding the bill’s release, “I am really excited to have had the opportunity to educate myself on this topic over the past six months.  The 59th Assembly District has a rich history of agricultural hemp production in the first half of the 20th century and processed industrial hemp in Hartford for the war department.  Today, the future is bright for this commodity – new jobs, increased tax revenue, brand new tech industries and agricultural growth.”

Rep. Kremer went on to add, “I would like to thank our bipartisan authors, Senator Vinehout (D-Alma) who has been working on this issue since 2009, Senators Testin (R – Stevens Point), Harsdorf (R – River Falls) and Taylor (D – Milwaukee) and Representatives Kulp (R – Stratford) and Krug (R – Nekoosa).

The Wisconsin Farm Bureau recently adopted a policy that will support this legislation.

Rep. Kremer represents the 59th Assembly District which includes Southern Calumet, Western Sheboygan, Northern Washington and Eastern Fond du Lac Counties.

And the proposed Bill