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House Unanimously Passes Legislation Authorizing Commercial Hemp Farming in Alaska

Senate Bill 6 Defines Hemp as an Agricultural Product; Removes Industrial Hemp from List of Controlled Substances


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Industrial hemp is used to make a variety of products, including rope, clothing, paper, and even food.

Image courtesy of Storyblocks

Juneau – The Alaska House of Representatives unanimously passed legislation to remove industrial hemp from the list of controlled substances and to authorize commercial farming of hemp in Alaska. Senate Bill 6 passed the State Senate unanimously last April, and the bill passed the house by a vote of 36-0. The bill is sponsored by Senator Shelley Hughes (R-Palmer) who sought to build on the efforts to authorize industrial hemp by former State Senator Johnny Ellis from Anchorage. SB 6 was carried on the House floor by Rep. Harriet Drummond (D-Anchorage).

“Hemp has the potential to be a shot in the arm for Alaska’s agricultural sector because of its many uses. Hemp products are used in textiles, nutritional products, furniture, paper products, and construction materials. Hemp cultivation is legal in 30 states, but it’s the success in Canada that makes hemp such an attractive prospect for Alaska, due to our similar climate. Hemp has the potential to have a positive economic impact on Alaska, which is why SB 6 has received such overwhelming and bipartisan support,” said Rep. Drummond.

SB 6 removes industrial hemp from Alaska’s list of controlled substances and defines it as an agricultural product. The bill allows Alaska to participate in a federal pilot program and instructs the Alaska Division of Agriculture to develop a registry of hemp farming operations in Alaska.

“Industrial hemp farming in North America dates back to the 1600’s and was a product grown by many of the founding fathers, including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams. Many people don’t know that the Declaration of Independence was drafted on paper made with hemp,” said Rep. Drummond. “Industrial hemp production in Alaska has tremendous potential to create jobs and strengthen our economy. That’s why Senator Ellis championed this legislation for many years, and I am so glad to see his hard work finally pay off with a bill that passed both the House and Senate with unanimous votes.”

Senate Bill 6 will be sent back to the State Senate for concurrence. If the Senate agrees with the changes made in the House, the bill will be sent to Alaska Governor Bill Walker for his signature.

 

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