The state Plant Board has finally approved rules for hemp farming in Arkansas, a crop approved by the legislature in early 2017 but stymied by Plant Board red tape until yesterday. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported on the meeting yesterday.

The board has not decided when to accept applications for licenses to grow hemp, the D-G reported.

Act 981 of 2017, the “Arkansas Industrial Hemp Act,” created a research program to “assess the agricultural and economic potential of industrial hemp production in Arkansas.” Hemp is in the cannabis family but is low in marijuana’s intoxicant, THC, and can be used in a multitude of products, from clothing to skin products.

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The Plant Board’s progress was held up by questions raised by Governor Hutchinson about whether the state’s regulations for hemp research conflicted with federal law.  The governor approved the wording of the regulations in May.

Earlier this week, the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee passed a farm bill that would legalize hemp production. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) supports hemp legalization as a crop that could replace tobacco in Kentucky.

The rules must be approved by the Legislative Council, which will meet at 9 a.m. Aug. 17.