NORML Minnesota reports in Industrial Hemp Development Act: MN House approves pilot program:
In a small but tangible step towards rebuilding Minnesota's once-formidable hemp industry, the Minnesota House of Representatives authorized a limited pilot program, the Industrial Hemp Development Act on an 89-37 vote with bipartisan support. Supporters of expanded availability of cannabis are encourage to contact their senators and urge support for this bill, along with wider farmer access and general legalization for responsible adult use.
The full House voted last Monday to allow farmers to cultivate non-psychoactive cannabis (negligible THC content), under a limited program controlled by the commissioner of agriculture (full text here). The measure is included in the omnibus agriculture policy and finance bill, HF1437, one of several large bills the Legislature passes every year or two. [Update 5/9: Good news: a similar program is included in the Senate agriculture omnibus and apparently Gov. Dayton has indicated he will sign off on the program, according to a knowledgeable source.]
A bipartisan coalition including Rep. Phyllis Kahn (DFL-Minneapolis), a stalwart supporter of full legalization, and Rep. Mary Franson (R-Alexandria), who does not support personal use or medical cannabis, as well as Sen. Kent Eken (DFL-Twin Valley) pushed industrial hemp for economic development this year. Rep. Tony Cornish (R-Vernon Center), law enforcement lobby ringleader, laid on the fearsauce as always.
In 2014 Franson faced a GOP primary challenger who accused her of going soft in the glorious war on drugs, as noted in our 2014 voter guide. Grumpycat drug warrior Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen (R-Karlstad) directly intervened to try and defeat hemp backer Franson. She politely dropped off some fine hemp products at Ingebrigtsen's desk and tweeted it. Franson to her credit resisted drug warrior pressure and instead listened to local farmers, who want to work with a crop they know can provide jobs and economic stability, as well as cover and food for birds. [See Bluestem Prairie: Grumpy cat Senator Bill Ingebrigtsen still grumpy about industrial hemp's infernal roots in Hell, April 2015]
On Friday's installment of TPT Almanac, viewers learned (warning slow loading video, but worth the wait):
This week on Almanac Mary Lahammer toured a Medical Marijuana greenhouse and talked to a legislative odd couple about legalizing hemp as a crop.Posted by Almanac on Saturday, May 9, 2015
Word keeps coming up that budget targets have been agreed upon by House and Senate conferees for the ag bill; we hope that the industrial hemp pilot project/study will survive the conference committee. This is common sense legislature that will allow farmers and value-added industries capture some of the profits from the hemp products industry.
Photo: Minneapolis liberal DFLer Phyllis Kahn and Alexandria conservative Republican Mary Franson, the "odd couple" who have guided hemp legislation in the House; Kent Eken (DFL-Twin Valley) is the chief author in the senate. Both bills have been rolled into their chamber's omnibus bills related to agriculture.
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