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Minnesota Looks for Input on Industrial Hemp Program
Minnesota Ag Connection - 11/05/2019

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) will be holding three listening sessions around the state to gather input on Minnesota's Industrial Hemp Program. Currently, the MDA is drafting a state plan to submit to USDA to manage hemp regulations in Minnesota. The department is also beginning expedited rulemaking that will outline specifics of the state's hemp program, including licensing and testing requirements. The three meetings will allow growers, processors, consumers, and others interested in hemp and hemp products to share their vision for this new commodity.

Meetings will be held on the following dates:

- Nov. 19, 2-4 p.m., M State Detroit Lakes Campus Auditorium, 900 MN Hwy. 34, Detroit Lakes

- Nov. 20, 1-3 p.m., Minnesota Department of Agriculture, Orville L. Freeman Office Building, 625 Robert St. N, St. Paul

- Nov. 21, 1-3 p.m., Hubbard Building/Strategic Partnerships Center, Room 201, 424 N. Riverfront Dr., Mankato

"We are actively reviewing the rules USDA recently released," said Agriculture Commissioner Thom Petersen. "We want to ensure our state plan and upcoming rules work for those in the industry and we welcome input during this process. It's important to lay a good foundation to ensure this new industry is successful into the future."

Interest in industrial hemp has increased dramatically in recent years. The 2014 federal Farm Bill allowed for pilot programs to study the growth, cultivation, and marketing of hemp. It was the first time hemp was legally allowed to be grown in the United States in decades. Minnesotans first planted hemp under the Minnesota Department of Agriculture's Pilot Program in 2016. There were six growers that year.

The 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp from the Controlled Substances Act, made it distinct from marijuana, and recognized it as an agricultural crop. In 2019, over 700 people signed up to grow or process hemp in Minnesota through the MDA program. Growers planted more than 8,000 acres and 400,000 indoor square feet of hemp this year.

Industrial hemp and marijuana are both types of the same plant, Cannabis sativa. They differ by the concentration level of the psychoactive ingredient delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) within the plant. Hemp has less than 0.3% THC, and levels above that are considered marijuana.

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