BATON ROUGE, La. – Farmers in Louisiana can now legally begin to cultivate industrial hemp. With the state’s agriculture department and lawmakers finalizing regulations, licenses are now being distributed.
“Our industrial hemp program administrators worked hard to ensure the regulatory framework was in place as soon as feasibly possible and in time for the 2020 planting season,” Louisiana Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain, a Republican, told The Advocate.
According to Strain’s office, Nanette Noland, president of agricultural investment firm the Powell Group, was the first recipient of a hemp license in Louisiana. Noland says Powell is in need of new higher profit crops as the company’s investment in pine trees has been struggling to yield lucrative returns.
“So we have been looking to do something else with this acreage,” she said. “After some investigation, we decided hemp is the way to go.”
Powell plans to utilize 500 acres to plant and cultivate hemp in Louisiana’s southwest region. The company will consider expanding hemp operations if all goes well, but Nolan wants to carefully analyze how things are going first.
Momentum for legalized hemp has been growing in Louisiana leading up to and since passage of the 2018 farm bill. With ongoing trade uncertainty impacting farmers and poor weather conditions, farmers are struggling to make ends meet with traditional crops.
Noland is not the only one hoping to change her fortunes through industrial hemp. The Louisiana Alcohol and Tobacco Control Board has received approximately 1500 applications to sell hemp-extracted CBD. The businesses inquiring are quite diverse, ranging from gas station convenience stores to medical providers such as chiropractic offices.
Louisiana will keep its hemp regulations in line with federal guidelines. All hemp and CBD products must not exceed the threshold 0.3 percent THC. Any products found to include more than 0.3 percent THC will be subject to destruction by government agencies.
Possessing a license is a requirement for those working in all aspects of hemp cultivation and sales in Louisiana. The state is issuing four licenses related to hemp including transportation, growing, processing, and seed production.