On Thursday, June 21 the Arkansas State Plant Board gave the green light to allow local farmers to cultivate hemp. The Arkansas Hemp Program was initially approved back in 2017, however it has taken some months for state officials to go through the necessary channels to make it official. Now, hemp farmers will embark on a new journey to see how viable hemp cultivation can be.
The Act establishes an industrial hemp program, making Arkansas the 37th state to legalize it’s cultivation for research purposes.
It required much deliberation on the part of Arkansas lawmakers to make this dream a reality. The process began when the Plant Board approved the rules for the program back in March. However due to skepticism by state Gov. Asa Hutchinson, a process that was expected to take only a few days actually turned into a couple of months.
Hutchinson did eventually sign off on the rules in mid-May though. And following the required 30-day public comment period, the bill (which was originally called House Bill 1778) and 12 additional bills became law without needing a signature from Hutchinson. “I don’t approve of every bill that lands on my desk, but my disagreement doesn’t always rise to the level of a veto,” Hutchinson said following the newly approved laws.
Many are happy to see the program finally move forward, especially Arkansas Hemp Association President Nicholas Dial. “I’m happy to finally see it go through,” he told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Dial also co-authored the related bill, now referred to as Act 981.
Now, the next step includes the process of accepting and approving applications for hemp cultivation licenses. As seen in the past, this process is also expected to take a while to complete. Hopefully Arkansas officials will be able to follow the example of other states’ approaches to industrial hemp to speed up the process.