Lawmakers introduce bill to allow hemp research

John McMillan
Alabama Commissioner of Agriculture John McMillan

By Tyler Pruett

MONTGOMERY, Ala— In an official press conference at the state house, Agricultural & Industries Commissioner John McMillan, Senator Paul Bussman (R-Cullman), and Representative Ken Johnson (R-Moulton) announced a proposal to allow for the scientific research of hemp as an agricultural product. This will make Alabama the 29th state to allow scientific research. The plan would allow the Department of Agriculture & Industries or an institution of higher learning to research the uses of hemp.

Hemp was outlawed in 1970 as part of the Controlled Substances Act. This was due in large part to its relative in the plant family, Cannabis, or better known as Marijuana. While hemp is similar, it contains only small traces of the psychoactive chemical Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which exists in large amounts in marijuana.

Before it was outlawed, hemp was grown as an agricultural in North America since its settlement. Hemp can be used in a wide variety of products including: textiles, paper, food, building materials, and even to produce a type of carbon fiber used in auto production. In recent years, the topic has been hotly debated, as proponents maintain that the crop is a viable replacement for other agricultural crops. This has led many states to rethink their approach.

“The federal government has approved the production of industrial hemp and 28 states have already green-lighted pilot programs or production,” Bussman said. “This bill would allow the Agriculture Department and our colleges and universities to investigate the full uses of industrial hemp, which we already know can be used in the production of insulation materials, yarn, textiles, and even auto parts.”

“If this is a viable and productive crop in other states, we owe it to Alabama farmers to at least research the economic opportunities in our own backyard,” Johnson said. The use of the crop has already led to many businesses in other states to sell products with it in such as CBD oils and softgels like those at sites like this -

“I want to commend Senator Bussman and Representative Johnson for their leadership on this issue and for their willingness to help seek new viable cash crops for Alabama farmers,” Commissioner McMillan said. “We look forward to the potential research opportunities this legislation provides our state institutions of higher education.”

The legislation will first have to be considered by the appropriate committee, and then be voted on by the entire legislative body. Bussman and Johnson plan to introduce the measure this session.