The Utah Department of Agriculture and Food is currently discussing the expansion of its hemp research program to include local farmers. The new rule being discussed, which would allow farmers to grow certain strains of low-THC cannabis for research purposes, was given initial approval earlier this week on July 11.
Under the improved rule, anyone who seeks to obtain a cultivation permit would be required to provide a detailed “research plan” to the state. According to the Utah Department of Agriculture’s Policy Analyst, Melissa Ure, applicants must explain their intentions in studying the plant first. She noted that there are a variety of research objectives, such as better understanding the use of hemp fiber and production, how to utilize hemp seeds as a protein, the production of hemp CBD as a medicine or even how to improve the cultivation process. Those plans must also provide information on how farmers will protect crops from unauthorized access, as well as a plan on how to dispose of the hemp once research has finished.
Ure also mentioned that some Utah-based farmers have expressed an interest in working with Utah State University (USU). Some want to examine if hemp, which is already well-known as a plant of rapid growth, can be cultivated successfully in the state.
Although the state has allowed hemp research since the passage of the 2014 farm bill, it was limited only to approved institutions such as USU. However with the new rule proposal, the Department of Agriculture and Food could see permits being issues as early as January 2018.
Hemp research has always been hindered by United States law, but recent events show a rapidly increasing trend of acceptance. Hemp is being considered for a variety of uses such as hemp as animal feed and it is constantly expanding into new territories.