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Lawmaker hopes to legalize hemp with new bill

Marc Fuya

A state lawmaker says he plans to introduce a bill to legalize growing commercial hemp.

Under Michigan law it is currently legal to grow hemp for research purposes - but remains illegal for farmers to grow hemp commercially, for profit.

Republican Representative Dan Lauwers plans to introduce legislation to change that. He said state laws even requires the use of hemp ropes, at places like grain elevators.

“Hemp is everywhere in products people just aren’t aware of it. And we’re not producing it. We’re importing it all and we’re importing it all because when marijuana was outlawed hemp went with it.”

Lauwers said hemp doesn’t have any of the drug like effects of marijuana.

“While I’m not a proponent of the legalization of recreation of marijuana or anything like that I am always a proponent of agriculture and we’re missing out on a market that we could be participating in.”

Everett Swift is with Michigan Industrial Hemp Education and Marketing Project, which is in the process of dissolving. He said he’s been trying to legalize commercial hemp since 2008 - and has slowly seen interest drop off.

“There’s a demand for it. I get people calling all the time ‘how can I grow this? Where can I get product to make things with?’ It would help farmers who maybe can’t make enough off corn or other crops right now that are not enough money in.”

Lauwers said he will introduce a hemp legalization bill within the next few weeks.