Wisconsin farmers who want to grow industrial hemp can now apply for a state license.
The Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection began accepting applications late last week.
The deadline to apply for the upcoming growing season is May 1.
Federal drug law doesn’t differentiate between hemp and its cousin marijuana, but Congress included a provision in the 2014 farm bill to allow states to conduct research pilot programs into industrial hemp production, if authorized by their legislatures.
The Wisconsin Legislature passed a law that directed DATCP to write an administrative rule in 90 days.
The rule set up the regulatory framework for the pilot program. The industrial hemp program it created is based largely on those in the 31 other states with programs.
The law, as passed by the Legislature and signed by the Governor, requires that growers and processors pass a background check to show that the licensee has no state or federal drug convictions. Growers will pay a one-time licensing fee of $150 to $1,000, depending on how many acres they intend to plant.
Processors will also need a one-time license, at no cost.
Both must register with DATCP this year, and annually to remain in the program, with growers paying a $350 annual fee and processors, a $100 annual fee.