By Derrick Stanley
Two Alabama legislators are sponsoring a bill to allow research on growing industrial hemp in the state.
The bill was introduced by Sen. Paul Bussman, R-Cullman and Ken Johnson, R-Moulton,and would allow a state university or the state Department of Agriculture to research hemp production.
The lawmakers held a news conference at the Alabama State House along with Mcmillan Arrington, owner of a hemp processing plant in Nebraska, and Alabama state Agriculture
Commissioner John McMillan.
The federal Farm Bill passed in 2014 authorizes state agriculture departments and state universities to research hemp production.
About 28 states so far have passed legalization to authorize projects, including all four states bordering Alabama.
Hemp stalks and seeds are used to make a wide variety of different products, such as carpeting, rope, fabric, insulation, paper, building materials, and food products.
Hemp is a form of cannabis, like marijuana, but only has trace amounts of tetrahydrocannibinol (THC), the psychoactive component of marijuana that causes a high.
Many automobile components, such as door panels, are made from hemp. Henry Ford was using it in his cars in the 1930s.
Bussman said hemp has the potential to be a boon for Alabama farmers.
"We look forward to giving them the research that they need to grow the product in the best way and the fastest way and the most productive way that they can," he said.