Industrial hemp farming legalized in Wisconsin

Gov. Walker signed bill Thursday

Industrial hemp farming is returning to Wisconsin.

Governor Scott Walker signed the ‘Farm Freedom Act’ into law Thursday afternoon. The bill allows and regulates the farming of hemp in the state.

The plant is used in hundreds of products including brake pads, lotion, protective vests, insulation and other building materials.

“There’s so many different applications for this plant that I think in the years to come we’re going to see a lot of support industries, and new industries, come to the state of Wisconsin to invest in and find new ways and usage for this very versatile plant,” said bill co-sponsor State Senator Patrick Testin of Stevens Point.

Wisconsin lead the nation in industrial hemp farming until the late 1950s when growing it was banned because of the plant’s relation to marijuana. Industrial hemp, unlike marijuana, does not contain enough THC to produce a “high.”

State Senator Testin says he sees this bill as an opportunity to help the economy by helping agriculture. “We import about $500 million from Canada alone into the United States of industrial hemp. This is a prime opportunity to lessen our dependence on foreign imports, and have those imports grown right here in Wisconsin.”

With the law signed, the Wisconsin’s Department of Agriculture has 90 days to implement a licensing procedure. Farmers can start planting this spring.

State Senator Testin says he has already heard from a lot of interested farmers.