Louisiana Hemp Bill Passes House

The Louisiana House of Representatives has unanimously voted to advance a bill that would allow industrial hemp farming to return to the state, recognizing it as an agricultural commodity.

In late March, Representative Clay Schexnayder [R] pre-filed the bill, HB491, to take advantage of the opportunity presented by the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill which legalized hemp production in the United States.

The bill passed committee on April 26, and after the third reading on Tuesday, the House gave their overwhelming approval with a 102-0 vote.

Under the bill, the cultivation, processing, and transportation of industrial hemp would be permitted in accordance with Louisiana’s Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018.

HB491 would authorize the Agricultural Chemistry and Seed Commission (ACSC) to distribute licenses, collect fees, establish testing, conduct inspections, facilitate research, and regulate hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD) products.

If HB491 becomes law, the ACSC commissioner will be tasked with creating a plan to monitor and regulate hemp production, in consultation with the governor and attorney general, and submit it to House and Senate committees on agriculture by October 1, and to the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture by November 1.

The bill states that anyone convicted of a state or federal felony within ten years or a drug-related misdemeanor within two years will be ineligible to obtain a license, though WAFB reports that Schexnayder would be willing to omit that section.

Licensees would be required under the bill to keep full documentation, including records from seed acquisition to crop termination, and renew their permits annually.

Having gained final approval in the House, HB491 proceeds to the Senate for consideration.