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Legislators seek to lead federal production of hemp: ‘Wisconsin’s Comeback Crop’

Gov. Tony Evers signed bipartisan legislation to increase hemp exports, imports and production licensing for farmers across the state.

Gov. Tony Evers signed bipartisan legislation to increase hemp exports, imports and production licensing for farmers across the state.

Image By: Will Cioci

Gov. Tony Evers signed bill modifying the definition of hemp to match federal law, aiming to support the recent “exponential” growth of production across the state. 

2019 Act 68, also called the “Growing Opportunities Act,” is a bipartisan Senate and Assembly authored legislation hoping to make Wisconsin a lead player in the emerging industry. 

“Milwaukee should be a leader in hemp’s comeback,” Sen. Lena Taylor said. “For decades, the book was closed on hemp, but we’ve opened it up and now people across the state are writing the next chapter –– and Milwaukee has a big role to play.”

Bill author and hemp farmer himself, Rep. Tony Kurtz, R-Wonewoc, believes the community has “the talent and desire” to produce “Wisconsin’s Comeback Crop.”

The act gives the Department of Agriculture Trade and Consumer Protection more authority in regulating licenses for planting, growing, selling and other necessary fields to support the process. This includes importing and exporting hemp.

“From textiles, to recycling and bioplastics, to industrial materials, hemp provides endless opportunities to Wisconsin farmers who are looking for new markets to enter, which is why interest in growing and producing hemp in Wisconsin has skyrocketed in the last year,” Evers said.

Addressing THC concerns, the legislation ensures a “truth-in-labeling” aspect to create consumer protections and transparency. It also prohibits a person from producing hemp for 10 years if they have any felony convictions for a controlled substance. 

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