Industrial Hemp Production Can Begin in Maine

Farmers in Maine can start planting hemp immediately under emergency legislation that goes into effect immediately.

The measure allows growers to legally purchase seed from certified sources and cultivate hemp for commercial purposes, according to the Bangor Daily News.

The state’s agriculture department will set fees for cultivation licenses, which the law says must be “reasonable.”

The state’s governor vetoed the bill, but the state Legislature squashed his decision. The Senate voted 28-6 last week to override the veto, following a 135-6 vote in the House in May.

On Monday, the bill’s sponsor told the Bangor Daily News that the measure is effectively immediately, with the hope that growers can plant this summer.

Still, it may be a while before anybody actually produces a crop.

A division director for the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry said that because hemp is still classified as a drug, it can’t be grown without a permit from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, according to the newspaper.

Thus far, the DEA has only issued permits to state departments of agriculture or universities for research.

Hemp has been a controversial topic in many states. Indiana last year legalized production, but no fields have been planted as growers wait for federal approval and seeds to arrive.

Oregon lawmakers said earlier this year they may have to revoke licenses issued to cultivators amid worries that hemp will accidentally pollinate nearby marijuana plants.