How much would an industrial hemp program cost Iowa to implement?

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FILE – In this Aug. 13, 2015, file photo, hemp plants tower above researchers who tend to them at a research farm in Lexington, Ky. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Monday, March 26, 2018, he wants to bring hemp production back into the mainstream by removing it from the controlled substances list that now […]

DES MOINES – There’s a bill moving through the statehouse that would legalize the production and sale of industrial hemp in Iowa. It would have to be compliant with the federal law and be administered through the Department of Agriculture.

Under the bill, the Department of Public Safety would have to inspect a licensed crop site and other related services every year.

The federal Agricultural Act of 2014 legalized the possession and use of industrial hemp when the crop was part of a pilot program that was regulated by a state department of agriculture or part of a research program conducted by an institution of higher education. The federal Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 removed industrial hemp from the list of controlled substances and allowed states to regulate industrial hemp production. House File 754 specifies that DALS will develop and submit a State Plan for industrial hemp production in Iowa and submit it to the USDA for approval.

The total cost of this new program, if approved and made law, would be about $705,000 for the state in FY 2020. The state would have to hire new people to help start the program, and lab equipment would need to be purchased to inspect and test the hemp, according to a financial legislative analysis.

The revenue from the fees established in this bill cannot be estimated, as it is unknown how many people will participate in the manufacturing of industrial hemp. The other unknown factor is estimating how much it will cost to destroy crops that exceed the required THC levels.

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