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Oklahoma lawmakers eye new Industrial Hemp Task Force

Industrial hemp's uses include producing paper, biofuel and fiber for cloth, according to the Virginia Cooperative Extension.
U.S. Department of Agriculture
Industrial hemp's uses include producing paper, biofuel and fiber for cloth, according to the Virginia Cooperative Extension.

Senate Bill 1422 creates a group to study industrial hemp and the measure sailed through Oklahoma’s Senate Agriculture Committee on Monday.

Ten lawmakers voted for the bill and there was one abstention.

One of the bill’s authors, state Sen. Roland Pederson (R-Burlington), said people already know industrial hemp is a viable crop for Oklahoma because it was grown throughout the U.S. during the 1940s.

“I think we could produce it as good as anybody in the nation as far as climate and everything goes,” Pederson said.

Oklahoma legalized hemp in 2019, shortly after the nation made it legal in 2018.

Pederson helped conduct an interim study on the crop last year and he said one of the recommendations of that study included creating a task force to create supply chains, address legislative barriers and look at coordinating state and federal rules.

“One of the main things we need to do, I think, is distinguish between industrial hemp and medical marijuana,” Pederson said.

State lawmakers and agencies would appoint members to the group. Also, there would be appointees from Oklahoma State University College of Agriculture and University Oklahoma College of Architecture.

The task force won’t be looking at the production of hemp flowers for therapeutic reasons like medical marijuana or CBD, “which require separate licenses for approval,” Pederson said.

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This report was produced by the Oklahoma Public Media Exchange, a collaboration of public media organizations. Help support collaborative journalism by donating at the link at the top of this webpage.

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