Governor Mary Fallin today signed a bill that creates a pilot program, overseen by state agriculture officials and Oklahoma’s higher education institutions, allowing permits to grow industrial hemp.
House Bill (HB) 2913 creates the Oklahoma Industrial Hemp Agricultural Pilot Program.
The Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food, and Forestry will manage the program, which allows universities or farmers contracting with universities to cultivate certified hemp seed for research and development. HB 2913 creates within the department a revolving fund that will consist of all registration, lab, and inspection fees paid by program participants.
“Industrial hemp has the potential to become a source of steady, recurring revenue for our state,” said Fallin. “This pilot program will allow for careful analysis of the economic potential of industrial hemp farming in Oklahoma and of it s environmental impact.”
After processing, hemp can be used to make textiles, biodegradable plastic and oils. Industrial hemp is distinctly different than marijuana.
Even though they both come from the same plant species, the varieties that are used to make industrial hemp products and those that are used to make marijuana are scientifically different. Industrial hemp is a number of varieties intended for agricultural and industrial purposes while marijuana varieties are intended for medical and recreational drug use.
Three dozen states have implemented similar programs. Under the Agricultural Act of 2014, the federal government enabled states to begin experimenting with growing hemp as a cash crop.
HB 2913 passed 92-0 in the House of Representatives, and 39-1 in the Senate.
“Gov. Fallin’s signature was the final step for this smart legislation,” said Echols, R-Oklahoma City. “Good policy like HB 2913 provides opportunities for Oklahomans to work together in both the legislative chambers and on local farms. Beginning to end, this measure exemplified teamwork, and I’m happy to see it cross the finish line.”
It takes effect immediately.