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In Indiana, it is legal to import hemp, as does an Elkhart County business that spends $1 million a year to import hemp for use inside auto doors and armrests. Yes, it is legal to import hemp to Indiana, but not to grow it.

That appears about to change. Advancing in the Indiana Legislature is a bill that would allow hemp to be grown as “an agricultural product . subject to regulation by the state.”

Under that bill, hemp growers and handlers would have to be licensed, the Indiana State Police would regularly visit hemp fields to test that they meet the agricultural definition, and other stringent standards would have to be achieved and maintained.

The bill passed the Indiana Senate, 48-0, on Feb. 3 and has been sent to the House of Representatives’ Agriculture and Rural Development committee. Fortunately, Rep. Alan Morrison, R-Seelyille, is vice chairman of that House committee, and Rep. Kreg Battles, D-Vincennes, is a minority member. We hope both help advance the bill to the House floor and ultimately to the governor for his signature.

The bill seems to have wide bipartisan support, which it should, because it is not a partisan issue.

Hemp is not pot. Hemp is a cash crop with the potential to help Indiana’s farmers, its manufacturers, its workers, its economy, its ecology and its employment numbers.

Hemp should become legal in Indiana, so our state can join Kentucky and nine other states in sowing its seeds and reaping its benefits.


The Times, Munster. Feb. 23, 2014.

Honor Clay, but choose another path

It’s nice to see the late Rudy Clay be honored by the Indiana Senate, with the potential to rename Fifth Avenue in Gary in honor of the longtime politician who was so passionate about his city. But perhaps there’s a better way to honor him.

Clay died June 4, 2013. He was 77. He packed a lot of public service into those years.

Clay was mayor from 2006 through 2011, leading Gary through the first stages of enforced austerity as state property tax caps, among other revenue restraints, forced the city to downsize government.

Prior to that, he served as Lake County commissioner, recorder, councilman and as an Indiana state senator.

He was the only African-American senator when he took office in 1973. He became the first African-American chairman of the Lake County Democratic Party in 2005.

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