Hemp can be used for various purposes, from textiles to food to fuel. And after Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin’s signature, farmers will be allowed to grow it.
Gov. Fallin’s recent signature on House Bill 2913 will launch the Industrial Hemp Agricultural Pilot Program, granting farmers the ability to obtain permits to grow hemp from the state department of agriculture. According to the Oklahoman, it could be a significant source of revenue for the state. For example, Colorado — which also has legal recreational marijuana in addition to hemp — has already made $4 billion from its industrial hemp industry.
Up until Gov. Fallin signed House Bill 2913 on Monday, Oklahoma was one of the last states that didn’t allow farmers to cultivate hemp — a plant that comes from the cannabis family, but is unable to get you high if you smoke it. An April 2018 map from the National Conference of State Legislatures shows that there are now just 13 states (plus Washington, DC) that don’t allow the growing and harvesting of hemp — Arizona, Connecticut, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, South Dakota, and Texas (the map has not yet been updated to reflect Oklahoma’s new status as a hemp state).
“The purpose of the study is to study the environmental impact and the economic potential of industrial hemp farming in Oklahoma,” Rep. Mickey Dollens (D-Oklahoma City) told the Oklahoman. “It’s to be noted that this is federally compliant under the 2014 Farm Act.”
Under Oklahoma’s system, farmers who want to apply for a permit to grow the plant have to tell the state how they plan to use the crop, and have to install a GPS locator for their crop so the state agriculture department can monitor each plot.
Even though Oklahoma has a dry, arid climate, hemp is a resilient plant that does well in drier environments, requiring much less water than other popular crops like soybeans and wheat.
“It has more nitrogen in it than a soybean crop has,” farmer Tina Walker told the Oklahoman. “We’re not talking about replacing any crop, we’re just talking about a rotational crop if a farmer so chooses.”
The bill is now in effect with Gov. Fallin’s signature, meaning farmers can apply for permits at any time.
Jake Shepherd is a freelance writer from Cleveland, Ohio. He enjoys poring through financial disclosure statements, spirited debate, and good scotch. He remains eternally optimistic about the Browns. Email him at jake.d.shepherd.21 (at) hotmail (dot) com.