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HPPR Economy and Enterprise

Industrial hemp bill passes Kansas House

Kansas Agland

From Kansas Agland:

TOPEKA – Legislation enabling farmers eventually to obtain a license to plant industrial hemp passed the Kansas House on Monday morning, 103-18, with four members not voting.

Senate approval is needed, but bill proponent Rep. Willie Dove, R-Bonner Springs, was happy and hopeful.

“This is a very big deal for Kansas,” Dove said. All Kansas farmers want is a chance to compete, he said.

Dove planned to talk to Senate Majority Leader Jim Denning, R-Overland Park, about the bill advancing to the Senate Commerce Committee for consideration, and visited the Senate leadership office area Monday afternoon.

A spokeswoman for Senate President Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, told The News “She’s OK with the concept, but she hasn’t read the actual bill yet.”

Gov. Sam Brownback’s office declined to state where he is on the issue, saying only that he “carefully reviews all legislation that comes to his desk.”

Most members of the House from this region voted for the industrial hemp bill, with the exception of Rep. Don Schroeder, R-Hesston. Two physicians, Reps. Greg Lakin, R-Wichita, and Abe Rafie, R-Overland Park, voted against it.

Kansas Farm Bureau and some economic development entities in western Kansas supported House Bill 2182, but the Kansas Bureau of Investigation opposed it. The Kansas Department of Agriculture only supported the research component in the bill.

Industrial hemp would not be considered a controlled substance as it does not contain the THC levels found in marijuana, advocates said. The Agriculture Department would be authorized to license individuals or entities to grow the crop.

Most other states allow industrial hemp to be planted. There are over 30,000 product uses and the crop once was grown in Kansas, backers contended.