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Wisconsin Rep. Dave Considine introduces hemp cultivation bill

hempfor victory
Screenshot of a hemp farm from 1942 USDA movie, “Hemp for Victory”. (Public domain image: US Department of Agriculture.)

Rep. Dave Considine (D-Baraboo) is circulating LRB-1692, legislation authorizing the issuance of state licenses for the growing and processing of industrial hemp. The program would be regulated by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP).

Rep. Considine’s office says relegalizing Wisconsin’s long dormant hemp industry could provide huge economic benefits. There is bipartisan interest in the proposal and they anticipate there will be cosponsors from both parties. The chances of the bill receiving a hearing will be up to the chair of the committee it is ultimately assigned to after it is formally introduced.

Rep. Considine comes from the 81st Assembly district, a region with a long legacy of hemp cultivation dating back to the beginnings of the Wisconsin hemp industry a hundred years ago. Considine was elected in 2014, replacing Rep. Fred Clark, who retired. Clark’s predecessor was a moderate Republican, Rep. J.A. “Doc” Hines, who was a longtime advocate of hemp and a sponsor of hemp legislation.

This is the 4th cannabis bill introduced in the 2015 session that we know of so far, coming on the heels of Rep. Melissa Sargent’s hybrid legalization/medical bill, Rep. Mandela Barnes’ decriminalization bill and the Wanggaard/Wirch/Kahl/Krug cannabidiol bill to legalize possession of cannabidiol without a prescription in Wisconsin.

Here is the analysis from the LRB:

Analysis by the Legislative Reference Bureau

Current law places various restrictions on the possession, manufacture, and delivery of controlled substances. One such controlled substance is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), including THC contained in or obtained from marijuana. The controlled substances law defines marijuana as all parts of plants of the genus Cannabis, whether growing or not, and most derivatives or preparations of the plants (though it does not include, for instance, fiber produced from the stalks or oil made from the seeds of the plants). THC is currently placed in the most restrictive category of controlled substances, which means it may not be prescribed for medical use and may be manufactured and possessed only for particular purposes (such as research) under special permits.

This bill requires the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) to issue licenses that authorize the growing and processing of industrial hemp. Industrial hemp is defined as the plant Cannabis sativa with no more than 0.3 percent THC. The bill requires an applicant for a license to provide a legal description of the land on which industrial hemp will be grown or processed and to pay a fee for the license. It also requires DATCP to obtain a criminal history search from the state Department of Justice for each applicant and prohibits DATCP from issuing a license to a person if the criminal history search shows the person has been convicted of violating the controlled substances law. The bill requires reporting by a person with an industrial hemp license, including reporting all sales of industrial hemp. The bill also requires DATCP to promulgate rules for the administration of the licensing law.

This bill also creates an exemption from the controlled substances law for growing or processing industrial hemp in conformity with a license issued by DATCP.

This bill does not change federal law. Growing and possessing the plant Cannabis is generally prohibited by federal law. The 2014 federal farm bill, 7 USC 5940, authorizes a state agriculture department or an institution of higher education to grow industrial hemp for research purposes, if the state’s laws allow the growing of industrial hemp.

For further information see the state fiscal estimate, which will be printed as an appendix to this bill.

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