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Task force on hemp cultivation to hold first meeting

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Industrial help plants. Photo by Plismo - Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10994128

On Monday, July 8, the newly formed Mississippi Hemp Cultivation Task Force will hold its first meeting.

Andy Gipson, Mississippi commissioner of agriculture and commerce, said the meeting will be held in Room 113 of the Mississippi State Capitol starting at 10 a.m. The meeting will be open to the public.

Federal law legalized cultivation of industrial hemp in December 2018; however, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has not yet implemented regulations for the 2019 growing season. The USDA’s goal is to issue federal regulations this fall for the 2020 planting season.

Under Mississippi state law, cultivation of industrial hemp, which is a related but distinct strain from marijuana grown for recreational use, is prohibited in Mississippi, as is growing and using any form of marijuana.

Industrial hemp can be refined into a variety of items including paper, textiles, clothing, biodegradable plastics, paint, insulation, biofuel, food and animal feed. It has been cultivated for some 10,000 years, according to some experts. Hemp has lower concentrations of THC, the ingredient in marijuana that gets users high, and higher concentrations of cannabidiol (CBD), which decreases or eliminates its psychoactive effects. CBD is gaining acceptance for medical purposes.

Medical Marijuana 2020, an advocate group, is working to get the use of medical marijuana on the Mississippi 2020 ballot in November. The group says medical marijuana benefits patients with debilitating diseases, including seizure disorders and Parkinson’s disease.

H.B. 1547, enacted during the last legislative session, created the 13-member Mississippi Hemp Cultivation Task Force to consider the potential of hemp cultivation, market potential and potential job creation in the state.

“This is a responsibility I take seriously in accepting this unique assignment from the Mississippi Legislature,” Gipson said in a statement “I look forward to leading a thoughtful, evidence-based discussion with the other members of the Task Force as we examine all the issues surrounding the cultivation of hemp in Mississippi.

“In all our considerations, we will keep a keen focus on the interests of Mississippians, including our farmers, law enforcement and other stakeholders, as well as the general public,” Gipson added. “We will thoroughly explore the potential as well as the challenges experienced by other states.”

To meet the early December deadline for reporting to the Legislature, Gipson asked each member of the task force for early submission of their ideas and concerns.

Submit comments to the task force at [email protected].

For more information, visit the task force website.

Copyright © 2021 Vicksburg Daily News.

Vicksburg Daily News