April 15, 2019
Hemp 2.0 – the Growing Opportunities Act
Senators Pat Testin and Lena Taylor and Representatives Tony Kurtz and Dave Considine have released a bill in the state legislature that is critical for moving Wisconsin’s hemp industry forward and seizing opportunities created by passage of the federal farm bill late last year. The Wisconsin Hemp Alliance was front and center in the entire process of crafting this bill. The following is the memorandum sent out to all legislators asking them to sign on as co-sponsors of this bill:
TO: All Legislators
FROM: Senators Testin and L. Taylor
Representatives Kurtz, Considine, Kulp, Krug, and Quinn
DATE: April 5th, 2019
RE: Co-sponsorship of the Growing Opportunities Act – LRB-2612/2 and LRB-2681/1, relating to regulating hemp, providing an
exemption from emergency rule procedures, granting rule making authority, and making an appropriation.
DEADLINE: Wednesday, April 17th at 5:00 P.M.
Last session’s unanimous passage of the “Farm Freedom Act” led to the re-introduction of legal hemp cultivation in Wisconsin. In 2018, DATCP licensed 248 growers and 99 processors; this year DATCP has received applications from more than 1,400 growers and more than 700 potential processors.
This explosion in interest follows the December 20th, 2018 signing of the federal farm bill. That legislation de-scheduled hemp, meaning it is no longer a controlled substance. It also stipulated that states may choose to apply to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to manage their own program or cede that management authority to the USDA.
The Growing Opportunities Act works to create a framework that the WI Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP) can utilize to develop a plan to submit to the USDA so that Wisconsin can maintain control over our hemp program as it transitions from pilot to permanent. The bill aligns Wisconsin with federal law by removing hemp from Wisconsin’s Controlled Substances list and updates the definition of hemp to conform to the federal definition, which still stipulates that hemp contain 0.3% THC concentration or less (a non-psychoactive level).
The main goal of this legislation is to build on last year’s successes to continue to increase confidence at all levels of the industry. We accomplish this in several ways that are detailed in the analysis, including the application of truth in labeling requirements to hemp products in an effort to protect Wisconsin consumers.
This legislation was developed through consultation with numerous stakeholders, including Farm Bureau, Farmers Union, and DATCP, as well as numerous individuals and associations involved at every level of the hemp industry.
To be added on as a co-sponsor of this legislation, please reply to this email or contact Jeff in Sen. Testin’s office at 6-3123 of Kathryn in Rep. Kurtz’s office at 6-8531 by Wednesday, April 17th at 5:00 P.M. All co-sponsors will be added to the corresponding companion version of the bill unless specified otherwise.
IT IS CRITICALLY IMPORTANT THAT YOU CONTACT YOUR LEGISLATORS IN THE NEXT TWO DAYS TO ASK THEM TO SIGN THEIR NAMES TO THIS LEGISLATION. Not sure who your legislators are? Enter your address on the legislature’s website to find out, and then make contact. The Wisconsin Hemp Alliance sent a request to all legislators asking them to support this legislation and put out a press release in support, along with our partner the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation. While there is a lot of support for the hemp industry and this proposed legislation, concerns have been raised by law enforcement organizations so every showing of support will be beneficial.
Hemp Can Do It!
The Hemp Can Do It! podcast is now available on iTunes and SoundCloud. Make sure to subscribe, and reach out to make suggestions about what you would like to hear about next.
It seems that every Update we have more to report on the FDA’s position on hemp-derived products. We have to be careful not to read too much into this, but in a recent article the outgoing FDA Chair seems to indicate that they are only actively pursuing people who are making fairly excessive claims about the health effects of hemp-derived products like CBD oil. As reported in past Updates, we are going to continue keep a close eye on any information coming out of the FDA related to the legality of CBD and other hemp-derived products. The most recent official statement from the agency reiterated their position that significant controls are in place for CBD products.
We are continuing to see more banking services becoming available from more banks. Credit Unions are still lagging substantially behind. If you are in need of banking services (other than lending, which may take more time), please let us know and we can see if we can connect you with a bank in your area that has taken the time to understand this industry and the opportunities that it provides.
We recently met with a number of stakeholders to discuss banking and lending services in the hemp industry, organized by State Representative Dave Considine, a strong hemp supporter. We were pleased to learn that the new State Treasurer, Sarah Godlewski, is familiar with the hemp industry and stands ready to lend her support and experience to open doors to the financial world. We are very pleased to have her as an ally.
The Wisconsin Hemp Alliance team will also be participating in the Wisconsin Bankers Association Ag Day at the Capitol next month, and will use that opportunity to bring more banks into this industry.
We have been participating in a number of hemp programs lately. In early April we were pleased to participate in the “It’s Hemp, It’s Fine” program held at the Monona Terrrace Convention Center, hosted by Tim O’Brien and Apple Wellness. We were astounded by the turnout, the great questions people had, and the excitement in the building. We participated in an hour-long call-in show on WPR called “The West Side” in late March and presented at and sponsored the Wisconsin Farm Bureau’s Ag Day at the Capitol on March 20th.
Please remember to take a look at the Forum tab above, and use this tool to open a dialogue on any topic for which you would like to engage others relating to hemp. Some of you may also be interested in joining the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute informational forum relating to hemp. There have been some interesting topics discussed there. If you are interested you can find information on their website.