LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - After 80 years of prohibition, industrial hemp is legal again in Arkansas. The Arkansas State Plant Board is creating rules for a help research program that will begin next year.
Earlier this year, the Arkansas Industrial Hemp Act passed in legislation.
"Just to use a new crop that could bring in some money in the coming years as a rotation, it’s exciting," said Jeremy Fisher, V.P. of Arkansas Hemp Association.
Agriculture is the largest industry in Arkansas and now a new door is opening to farmers.
"It’s important to revive that to bring in a new rotation crop," said Fisher.
While hemp and marijuana products both come from the cannabis plant, hemp is different in its use, physical appearance and has a low amount of THC.
“It will not get you high," said Fisher.
President Obama signed the Agricultural Act of 2014 which allows universities and state agriculture departments to begin cultivating industrial hemp. At least 15 states enacted legislation this year, making more than half of the country on board with growing hemp.
The plant is used in more than 25,000 products including fibers, textiles, paper, construction, cosmetics and food.
"It’s going to help us transition into a new green economy in the future," said Nicholas Dial, President of the Arkansas Hemp Association.
Nicholas Dial and Jeremy Fisher helped draft Act 981 that legalized industrial hemp in the state. They founded the Arkansas Hemp Association in August.
Next Spring, the Arkansas State Plant Board will begin issuing licenses for growers, like farmers, for a 10 year industrial hemp research program. The research program will start small but is expected to steadily increase over the years as the crop proves it can be beneficial in the state.