Connecticut lawsuit seeks to open state for hemp farming

A Connecticut landowner who wants to grow hemp is suing to force the state to adopt a hemp pilot program.

If he succeeds, Aaron Romano would make Connecticut the first state to be ordered by a court to regulate private hemp production.

According to the Hartford Courant, Connecticut adopted a law in 2015 removing hemp from state statutes concerning marijuana and controlled substances.

But Connecticut never went on to create a hemp pilot program through its department of agriculture, a requirement for states to participate in the modern hemp industry under the 2014 Farm Bill.

Romano, who owns more than 10 acres in Bloomfield, near Hartford, argues in his filing that Connecticut’s inaction on hemp deprives him of “the use and enjoyment of his property.”

The suit was filed in Superior Court in Hartford. A hearing has been scheduled for Oct. 15.

Jason Bowsza, chief of staff to Connecticut’s state agriculture commissioner, told the Courant that Connecticut residents can’t legally grow hemp until the state complies with federal requirements.

“Connecticut doesn’t have either the legislation or regulations in place at this point in time,” Bowsza wrote in an email, “but we are studying the issue and what specifically would need to be adopted to establish a similar program in Connecticut.”

A 2017 bill to set up a hemp pilot program in Connecticut failed to make it to a vote.

Romano is counsel for the Connecticut NORML chapter and sits on the board of directors for the Hartford County Farm Bureau.