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Utah rule might let farmers cultivate hemp for research

Logan Lowrey-Rasmussen

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The rule would permit farmers to grow industrial hemp which is a sibling to the cannabis plant containing trace amounts of the psychoactive compound THC.

The plant’s similar appearance to its psychoactive cousin is what gives hemp the negative reputation and has contributed to its federally illegal status. Hemp’s uses as an industrial crop give it the potential to be used in food, fabric, textiles, paper, body care products, building materials, and fuel.

Researchers would be able to discover additional benefits such as cannabinoid-based oils for medical purposes and improving cannabis cultivation methods.

Those applying for permits will also have to submit plans for preventing unauthorized access to crops and for disposing the hemp after research has concluded.

The commercial sale of hemp products is still prohibited in the state of Utah, but research institutions like Utah State University have been allowed to cultivate hemp since 2014. Hemp production was authorized by the federal Farm Bill released this year.

A handful of farmers have already expressed interest in growing hemp for research to test the plant’s viability.

This new rule will be subject to public review in September. If passed, Utah’s Department of Agriculture and Food could begin releasing permits by January.

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