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New Nevada Law Legalizes Commercial Hemp Production Despite Federal Prohibition

Michael Maharrey

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Tomorrow, a new Nevada law goes into effect legalizing commercial industrial hemp production in the state, despite a federal ban on the same. The new policy sets the foundation to nullify federal prohibition in practice and effect within the state.

A bipartisan coalition of 12 legislators sponsored Senate Bill 396 (SB396). The new law authorizes the cultivation of industrial hemp for commercial purposes and the production of agricultural hemp seed in Nevada. The statute expands current law that only allows an institution of higher education or the Nevada Department of Agriculture to cultivate industrial hemp for research purposes conducted under an agricultural pilot program or for other agricultural or academic research. Under the new law, the state will create separate licensing programs for growers, handlers and producers of hemp seed.

The federal government currently restricts the acquisition of seed. Encouraging seed development within the state will also incentivize the hemp market. However, the law gives the Department of Agriculture wide latitude in its rule-making authority. How the program operates in practice will ultimately depend on how the department formulates the rules.