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State Releases Draft Regulations for Industrial Hemp, Seeks Public Comments, Suggestions

Debbie Roos/N.C. State University

: Alaska took the first step this week toward regulating industrial hemp, a versatile and non-psychoactive form of marijuana. The state Department of Natural Resources unveiled draft regulations for the industry on Monday, and the agency is asking the public to weigh-in on the proposed regs.

Industrial hemp is a type of marijuana that can be processed and used to manufacture textiles, paper, biodegradeable plastic and health-care products, among other things.

“There’s thousands of uses out there. Some that haven’t been identified,” says Robert Carter, an agronomist with the state Agriculture Division. Carter is working on the industrial hemp program, and he’s helping solicit public comments on the proposed hemp regulations announced this week by the state Department of Natural Resources, the Ag Division’s parent agency.

The regs were called-for by Senate Bill 6, which was adopted last year by the Legislature and which in turn was authorized by federal legislation. He says they are “regulations that interpret Senate Bill 6, and the 2014 Farm Bill, on the national level, that legitimized industrial hemp production around the country for states that implement programs such as this.”

Industrial marijuana does not have a psychoactive effect like the types of marijuana that’s grown for recreational or medicinal users. Carter says the regulations require testing to ensure industrial hemp meets those and other requirements.

Credit Minnesota Public Radio
When harvested and processed, the male industrial hemp plant is used to produce hemp oil.

He says feedback on those regs along the results of pilot projects also called-for by Senate Bill 6 both will provide information needed to guide development of a statewide hemp industry.

“At the Plant Materials Center, where I am located, we are currently growing industrial hemp, as part of the pilot program, to start evaluating varieties, their suitability for Alaska” and other research.

Carter says anyone interested in commenting on the proposed regulations must respond by July 3rd. He says if all goes well, he’s optimistic Alaska growers will be producing industrial hemp as part of the pilot program in the near future.

“I do expect that we will see growers producing industrial hemp in Alaska in 2019,” he said.

The regulations are available on the Alaska Online Public Notice System or through the Ag Division website.

Tim has worked in the news business for over three decades, mainly as a newspaper reporter and editor in southern Arizona. Tim first came to Alaska with his family in 1967, and grew up in Delta Junction before emigrating to the Lower 48 in 1977 to get a college education and see the world.