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Wisconsin Governor Signs Bill Making Hemp Program Permanent

Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers earlier this week signed into law a bipartisan bill that makes the state's 2018 hemp-growing pilot program permanent.

Gov. Evers signed the Senate Bill 188, now the 2019 Wisconsin Act 68 and also known as the Growing Opportunities Act. This bill will make the required changes to Wisconsin's current laws regarding hemp production in the state following the passage of the federal 2018 Farm Bill.

The passage of the 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp production in the U.S. The Farm Bill defines hemp as containing 0.3 percent or less tetrahydrocannabinol or THC on a dry weight basis. THC is the psychoactive compound in marijuana that gives users a high.

"From textiles, to recycling and bioplastics, to industrial materials, hemp provides endless opportunities to Wisconsin farmers who are looking for new markets to enter, which is why interest in growing and producing hemp in Wisconsin has skyrocketed in the last year. I was proud to sign this collaborative, bipartisan bill into law today to ensure the continued success of our hemp program and the many new opportunities hemp provides to Wisconsin farmers," Gov. Evers said.

The bill modifies the definition of "hemp" in state law to match the definition under federal law.

It also requires the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection or DATCP to promulgate rules to ensure the hemp program complies with federal law. The DATCP is also required to receive any required federal approval necessary for the state's hemp program.

Further, the bill provides DATCP the authority to issue licenses for planting, cultivating, harvesting, producing, sampling, testing, processing, transporting, transferring, taking possession of, and selling, importing or exporting hemp.

Wisconsin's hemp pilot program began in 2018 and saw 250 licensed growers. This year, the state had 1,247 growers and 556 processors who were licensed and registered to be active.

Hemp varieties that test higher than 0.3 percent total THC are considered illegal by the state as well as federal law enforcement, and will be required to be destroyed by the DATCP.

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