MADISON (AP) — Attorney General Brad Schimel says Wisconsin farmers who grow industrial hemp can produce CBD oil from it.
Schimel’s statement May 10 is a reversal from a Justice Department memo last month that said only doctors and pharmacies can distribute cannabidiol — CBD — oil and people can possess it only with a doctor’s certification. That left many farmers wondering whether it would be worth their time to start growing hemp, and the industry objected. The new guidance came after Schimel met May 9 with industry representatives, lawmakers and the state agriculture department.
Schimel says industrial hemp has the potential to be a big part of the state’s farm economy and he will advise police to allow hemp growers to produce CBD oil if the growers obtain a license from state agriculture officials.
“I very much appreciate (Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation) raising concerns to me about Wisconsin’s current laws related to hemp,” Schimel said in a news release. “DOJ remains committed to ensuring that CBD oil for sale at retail outlets is safe for consumers. Although our Legislature has chosen to authorize industrial hemp pilot projects and products made from that hemp, it is still very important to remind Wisconsin consumers that certain products may threaten their health or could be mislabeled.”
Farmers had until May 1 to apply for a hemp license from the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. The agency has received hundreds of applications. Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation lobbyist Rob Richard said most of the farmers want to grow hemp so they can extract and sell the oil, which can be used to treat seizures and other health problems.
Gov. Scott Walker signed legislation in November that allows farmers to grow hemp as part of a state pilot program. The bill’s supporters argued that hemp can be used in a wide variety of products and Wisconsin farmers need another cash crop. The state had received nearly 360 applications and had issued 72 licenses as of May 4.
CBD oil extracted from hemp under provisions of the 2014 Farm Bill and Wisconsin Act 100 must have less than 0.3 percent tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. Wisconsin retailers who sell CBD oil are required to keep documentation that will aid DATCP in researching the CBD oil market.
“Wisconsin Farm Bureau is pleased by the action by Wisconsin’s Department of Justice to uphold the 2014 Farm Bill provision that allows states to create an industrial hemp pilot program which involves farmers growing hemp to research growing, processing and marketing of hemp,” Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation President Jim Holte said in a news release. “In a time of low commodity prices, this new market is an opportunity for farmers to explore new opportunities.”
The Country Today contributed to this report.