The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) will be holding listening sessions around the state to gather input on Minnesota’s industrial hemp program in November.

Currently, the MDA is drafting a state plan to submit to the USDA to manage hemp regulations in Minnesota. The department is also beginning expedited rule making that will outline the specifics of the state’s hemp program, including licensing and testing requirements.

The meetings will allow growers, processors, consumers and others interested in hemp and hemp products to share their vision for this commodity.

One of the upcoming meetings is being held in Mankato Nov. 21 from 1-3 p.m. at the Hubbard Building/Strategic Partnerships Center.

“We are actively reviewing the rules USDA recently released,” said Thom Petersen, agriculture commissioner. “We want to ensure our state plan and upcoming rules work for those in the industry, and we welcome input during this process. It’s important to lay a good foundation to ensure this new industry is successful into the future."

Interest in industrial hemp has increased dramatically in recent years.

The 2014 federal farm bill allowed for pilot programs to study the growth, cultivation and marketing of hemp. It was the first time hemp was legally allowed to be grown in the United States in decades.

Minnesotans first planted hemp under the Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s pilot program in 2016.

Industrial hemp and marijuana are both types of the same plant, Cannabis sativa. They differ by the concentration level of the psychoactive ingredient delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) within the plant. Hemp has less than 0.3 percent THC, and levels above that are considered marijuana.

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