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Senate Hemp Bill Passes Committee

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Osborn Seed President Dan Osborn testifies to the Senate Commerce and Technology Committee on legalizing commercial hemp production in Indiana. (Samantha Horton/IPB New

Hemp legislation will be sent to the Senate after being passed out of the Commerce and Technology Committee Thursday.

The bill would establish an advisory committee to help state officials regulate hemp. This follows last year’s federal farm bill, which no longer classified it as a controlled substance, leaving Hoosier advocates hopeful state lawmakers will allow production in Indiana.

Advocates including researchers, farmers, and Osborn Seed Company president Dan Osborn testified before the committee, saying it’s time for such a move.

“There’s a lot of excitement surrounding this new opportunity for myself and our company as well as others in the Indiana seed industry,” says Osborn.

READ MORE: With Federal Farm Bill Compromise, Will Indiana Legalize Producing Hemp?

BioDynamic Ventures Indiana Partner Sanjay Malkani says Indiana could be a pioneer in developing the hemp market.

“This should not be a farm only gold rush,” he says. “It is so much more than that that we’re talking about.”

However, lawmakers raised concerns about the cost of testing hemp production facilities. Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council executive director Dave Powell says just one test currently costs about $1,000.

“I would love to have a $60 test, or an $80 test, as was suggested a moment ago, but if they’re out there, I would like that list as well because state police are unaware of it, prosecutors are unaware of it, and we’re currently having to pay for this at the local level,” says Powell.

Sen. Erin Houchin (R-Salem) says she’s concerned the state might not have the financial means to cover the costs of tests that would monitor hemp production.

“If it’s going to cost us money to administer and enforce a program such as this, it is in our purview to analyze the fiscal numbers and make sure that the State of Indiana can afford to do that,” she says.

Houchin recommended having the bill sent to the Appropriations Committee to have any possible financial concerns further examined.

The bill passed 8-3 with Sens. Houchin, Eric Koch (R-Bedford) and Jean Leising (R-Oldenburg), voting against all citing finance concerns for enforcing legal hemp production.

Want to contact your legislators about an issue that matters to you? Find out how to contact your senators and member of Congress here.

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