- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 13, 2016

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - North Dakota’s Agriculture Department is seeking participants for the second year of an industrial hemp research program.

Three farming operations in three counties grew 70 acres of hemp this year under a federally approved research effort. The goal is to determine whether hemp can be a successful crop in North Dakota, and which varieties work best in the state’s climate.

Hemp produces fiber that can be used in products such as rope, paper and clothing, and also oil that can be used in food and health products. However, production has been limited because federal drug law doesn’t differentiate between hemp and its cousin, marijuana.

Congress in 2014 allowed universities and state agriculture departments to research hemp in states that permit its cultivation. North Dakota issued the nation’s first hemp-growing licenses in 2007, but efforts to establish the industry in the state have been hampered by federal drug law.

The Drug Enforcement Administration registered the state Agriculture Department as a hemp seed importer in August 2015, clearing the way for the research program.

Proposals from growers for this year’s program are due at 5 p.m. on Jan. 31, Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring said. The proposals will be ranked by a committee appointed by Goehring, who will make the final choices.


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