Oklahoma's governor signed into law Monday a bill that allows universities and farmers who work with those universities to grow industrial hemp.
Gov. Mary Fallin signed House Bill 2913, which establishes the Oklahoma Industrial Hemp Agricultural Pilot Program. The pilot program, to be overseen by the state's Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, will allow universities and farmers who contract with universities to grow the crop "for research and development," according to a news release from Fallin's office.
“Industrial hemp has the potential to become a source of steady, recurring revenue for our state,” Fallin in a prepared statement. “This pilot program will allow for careful analysis of the economic potential of industrial hemp farming in Oklahoma and of its environmental impact.”
Thirty-seven other states have previously passed legislation to allow hemp's cultivation, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The federal Agriculture Act of 2014, signed into law by President Barack Obama, enabled universities and state agriculture departments to begin cultivating the plant for limited purposes.
Industrial hemp's potential uses exceed a laundry list. The seed can be used in bread, granola, for flour and animal food. Oil from the seed can be used in fuel, ink, lubricants, paint and body products.
The plant's stalk can be mulched, used in animal bedding, absorb chemicals, pressed into fiberboard, made into insulation and turned into biofuel, according to Leafly.com. It can be made into canvas, carpet, shoes, rope and cardboard.
Despite hemp's familial relation to marijuana, the plant contains negligible, if any, amounts of marijuana's primary psychoactive component.
The bill passed the Oklahoma House unanimously. The state Senate had only one dissenting vote, from Grove Republican Wayne Shaw.