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Lawmakers Look to Form Committee on Uses for Industrial Hemp
Wisconsin Ag Connection - 01/15/2010

A group of rural Wisconsin lawmakers are looking into the possibility of setting up an independent committee to study the uses of industrial hemp. According to supporters, the measure would require the panel to review literature related to hemp, and evaluate the economic opportunities for state growers and distributors. That group would then report to the state legislature with its recommendations within one year.

Specifically, the committee would conduct a review of scientific and business findings of industrial hemp as an alternative fuel and motor oil, as well as other uses like seed and industrial hemp oil in snack foods, body care products, and food supplements.

The committee would be made up of two appointees selected by the governor, and another four chosen by the presidents of the state senate and assembly. The chairs of the senate and assembly ag committees would also serve, along with a representative of the Wisconsin Farm Bureau.

The issue of growing hemp as an agricultural cash crop has been controversial in other states because parts of the plant are considered controlled substances. Just last month, a federal appeals court ruled that a group of North Dakota farmers would not be allowed to grow the crop despite the fact that they were issued a license to do so.

The bill is being co-sponsored by Representatives Phil Garthwaite, Mary Williams, Joan Ballweg, Terese Berceau, Spencer Black, Tamara Grigsby, Joe Parisi, Mark Pocan, Sondy Pope-Roberts, James Soletski, Amy Sue Vruwink and Josh Zepnick. Senators Dale Schultz and Lena Taylor are also supporting the effort.

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