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Hemp experts pushing for growth

It was hemp day at the Capitol on Tuesday, with a hearing in the Agriculture Committee on Omaha Sen. Justin Wayne's bill (LB1133) that would provide an exemption under the Uniform Controlled Substance Act to allow farmers to grow hemp. 

Wayne told the committee, "Hemp is not marijuana. Hemp cannot get you high. Hemp is not a mind-altering drug. ... Hemp has been incorrectly stigmatized." 

Nebraska has a long history of hemp production, first reported to be a crop just after the Civil War. The state was one of the biggest producers of hemp, he said, because of its soils.

A 2015 congressional study showed the global hemp market has more than 25,000 products and growing, he said. In the next two to three years, it will be a $1 billion crop. 

As one Kearney man testified: "You can't get high from hemp. But you might get rich." 

The Nebraska Department of Agriculture opposed the bill. Department Director Steve Wellman said that with the bill, the department would be responsible to license growers and assist in marketing their industrial hemp. Also, a resolution of federal drug laws is necessary for a commercial industrial hemp industry to be implemented, he said.

Vargas chosen for leadership program

Omaha Sen. Tony Vargas will participate in the Presidential Leadership Scholars program, one of the 59 people chosen for the program’s fourth annual class. The program brings together a diverse network of leaders to collaborate and make a difference in the world as they learn about leadership through the presidential experiences of George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush and Lyndon B. Johnson.



State government reporter

JoAnne Young covers state government, including the Legislature and state agencies, and the people they serve.

Political reporter

Don Walton, a Husker and Yankee fan, is a longtime Journal Star political and government reporter.

Higher education reporter

Chris Dunker covers higher education, state government and the intersection of both.

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