JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT
AN ACT CONCERNING THE STATE'S INDUSTRIAL HEMP INDUSTRY.
SPONSORS OF BILL:
Sen. Mae Flexer, 29th Dist.
Rep. Josh Elliott, 88th Dist.
Rep. Gregory Haddad, 54th Dist.
Rep. Melissa H. Ziobron, 34th Dist.
REASONS FOR BILL:
During the 2015 legislative session, the General Assembly passed Public Act 15-202, legalizing industrial hemp in Connecticut and effectively removing its classification as a controlled substance, allowing for the growth, use, and sale of the product. The ability to work with new advancing and emerging agricultural crops could provide economic opportunities for Connecticut Farmers. This bill requires the Department of Agriculture commissioner to adopt regulations establishing a pilot program for growing or cultivating of industrial hemp in accordance with federal law.
RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:
Steven Reviczky, Commissioner, Connecticut Department of Agriculture (DoAg): Supports the bill. Industrial hemp may have potential as a marketable crop, but significantly more research would be required to determine its feasibility. Additionally, complicating the issues are current federal regulations, which are often unclear and/or conflicting. This presents a unique challenge that does not exist in other potential new crops. Research and the drafting of regulation necessary to regulate an industrial hemp pilot program would require additional staff- resulting in an additional expense.
NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:
Joe Courtney, United States Congressman 2nd Dist.: There are over 25,000 different uses for industrial hemp. This product is an incredibly versatile crop which brings an estimated $580 million dollars of revenue to the United States. Additionally, there is a growing demand for hemp-based food and health products, Connecticut producers could potentially benefit from this growing demand. Through this bill, it is the Congressman's hope that the UCONN School of Agriculture and Natural Resources and the CT Agricultural Experiment Station may have access to hemp seeds for research purposes.
Henry N. Talmage, Executive Director, Connecticut Farm Bureau: Last year, the General Assembly passed the legalization of industrial hemp in Connecticut. This bill provides the next logical step by requiring the Commissioner of Agriculture to adopt regulations to establish a pilot program for the purpose of studying the growth, cultivation and marketing of industrial hemp in the state.
University of Connecticut, College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources (UCONN): UCONN aims to work with advancing new and emerging agricultural crops which could provide economic opportunities for Connecticut farmers. UCONN could provide assistance in the fields of genetics, cultivar development for local soil test, pest & climate conditions as well as microbiology.
NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:
Reported by: Jamie Hobart / Ussawin Bumpen