Four licensed to grow hemp by state Plant Board

The Arkansas State Plant Board has issued industrial hemp cultivation licenses to four companies: Friedrich Enterprises Inc. of Searcy, Tree of Life Seeds Inc. of Little Rock, Arkansas Hemp Genetics LLC of Fayetteville and Ozark Botanical Farms LLC of Hot Springs Village.

In addition, the board has issued processor licenses to Shake Extractions LLC of Fayetteville and to growers Arkansas Hemp Genetics and Ozark Botanical.

Filing the applications were George Friedrich for Friedrich Enterprises, Julie Brents for Shake Extractions, Brian Madar for Tree of Life, Jody Hardin Jr. for Arkansas Hemp Genetics and David Brian Taylor for Ozark Botanical Farms.

Tree of Life Seeds and Schiavi Seeds of Lexington, Ky., have also been licensed as seed dealer/labelers in Arkansas. Schiavi is a licensed industrial hemp grower in Kentucky.

The board has conditionally approved, but not licensed, two other industrial hemp growers. It has two other applications that are pending review.

Arkansas issued the licenses under a federal law that allows for industrial hemp research, authorized under the 2014 Farm Bill. Mary Smith, director of the seed division of the Arkansas State Plant Board, said the board has not yet discussed with the U.S. Agriculture Department whether its regulatory setup will pass muster with the newly-passed 2018 Farm Bill, which broadens the rules on industrial hemp. Trump’s shutdown of the government means no one is answering the phones at the USDA; the agency’s website notes there will be no updates as long as the funding is cut off. Smith said she will have a conference call with other state regulators next week.

The bill made industrial hemp — defined as a Cannabis sativa plant containing less than .3 percent THC (the intoxicating agent in marijuana) — legal, removing it from the controlled substances list. It allows its transfer across state lines for commercial and other purposes when produced legally. The bill does not allow hemp to be grown without restrictions, however; states that regulate its cultivation must submit their regulatory plans to the USDA for approval.

Thirty-eight states have passed laws allowing the cultivation of industrial hemp. The State Plant Board’s rules on hemp cultivation may be found here.

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