2019 Applications to Grow and Process Hemp in Wisconsin Show a Dramatic Increase
Updated: Jun 19, 2019
As of this week, over 2,100 individuals and businesses have applied for permits to grow or process industrial hemp through the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, with more applications expected, according to a press release from the agency. Although the deadline to submit applications was Friday, March 1, applications through the mail will continue to be accepted so long as they are postmarked by March 1.
Industrial hemp is a variation of the cannabis sativa plant that is bred to contain less than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) of its dry weight. Under the new Wisconsin pilot program for industrial hemp, the plant may be grown and processed to produce CBD and CBD-related products. It is important to distinguish between CBD and THC. THC and CBD are both chemical compounds that are extracted from hemp plants, and both contain cannabidiol. The main difference between the two is that while THC elicits a “high” or psychoactive effect, CBD oil does not. CBD oil provides similar potential health benefits to THC but does not give a natural high to users.
According to numbers released by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection, 1,405 applicants applied to grow industrial hemp. Of these, 1,244 would be first-time growers. Equally staggering is the percentage of first-time processors of industrial hemp. Of the 692 applicants to process industrial hemp into CBD and CBD-related products, 636 are first-time applicants. This compares to just 247 grower license and 100 processor licenses issued for 2018. Just how much have the numbers increased? Compared to last year, this is a 468.83% increase in growing applications and a 592% increase in processing applications.
These exponential increases in applications to grow and process industrial hemp likely stem from increased confidence in the current state of the laws regulating the industry. In 2014, Congress passed a law that authorized states to initiate pilot programs administered through universities or state agriculture departments. A few years later, Wisconsin instituted its own pilot program to grow industrial hemp through its Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection. In spite of this, many farmers and entrepreneurs remained hesitant to sign up for the program because industrial hemp remained on the list of Federal Controlled Substances.
Any uncertainty has dissipated since former Attorney General Brad Schimel issued a letter last May clarifying that any individuals who grow or process industrial hemp in compliance with the state’s pilot prog
of government action on the state and federal level to legalize the production of industrial hemp has given farmers and business owners confidence to venture into the budding industry. It remains to be seen on what effect this new industry will have on Wisconsin’s economy, but farmers and business owners are right to be excited about its potential.
Source: https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/WIDATCP/bulletins/23407e7 (press release from WI Dept. Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection)