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Making industrial hemp farms easy to distinguish from illegal marijuana growing operations would be the preeminent goal of any law regulating industrial hemp farming. If farmers had state licenses, law enforcement officials could continue to destroy wild marijuana plants and cultivated drug crops alike, stopping only at licensed farms that had registered their industrial hemp plots with the state agriculture commission. The state agriculture commission would oversee a testing regime that required farmers to show that they were growing industrial hemp that had no more than 0.3% THC, a minute amount of the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, the drug variety of cannabis. This could be accomplished through Process Verification, where farmers pay for an audit by an impartial third party (click here for more information).

If common misconceptions about industrial hemp and marijuana persist, more complex regulatory regimes could offer a bridge between the current situation, where industrial hemp is treated the same as marijuana, and one where licensed hemp farming coexists with effective marijuana law enforcement. One such transition measure could be a test plot in a secure location like Burlington’s Iowa Army Ammunitions Plant. The Burlington plant’s 19,000 acres of military-fenced parcels with numerous facilities just waiting for development would be a great place for secure hemp production, research and business development all in one location. Businesses could do storage, processing and manufacturing all in a relatively small — and highly secure — area. Incentives are available for commercial development from the Commerce Center of Southeast Iowa.


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