Washington state farmers commit to increasing hemp crops

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Washington state farmers have committed to plant significantly more hemp than they did in the previous two years, officials said.

Farmers plan to plant more than 9 square miles (or 23 square kilometers) of hemp this year, Capital Press reported Wednesday.

The state Department of Agriculture licensed 35 growers as of May 21, including 21 who also obtained licenses to process hemp.

Another 20 to 25 applications are awaiting review, an official said.

The surge began after the 2018 Farm Bill took hemp off the federally controlled substances list and Washington state lawmakers responded by lifting other restrictions. Washington's Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee signed the hemp bill in April and the number of licensed farmers doubled in two weeks.

"There will be more," said Industrial Hemp Association of Washington lobbyist Bonny Jo Peterson.

Hemp can now be grown in Washington for CBD oil, which is marketed for pain, stress and illnesses including cancer, seizures and constipation.

The Food and Drug Administration says some applications go too far and violate the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.

"People have their own specific experiences with it, and that is what's driving the market," said Peterson, who predicted a future oversupply. "Like with any industry, there will be an over-saturation."

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Information from: Capital Press, http://www.capitalpress.com/washington

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