House panel backs bill seeking to boost industrial hemp crop

In this Oct. 5, 2013 photo, Derek Cross, a chef who specializes in cooking with hemp, helps harvest the plant in Springfield, Colo. Although it can’t be grown under federal drug law, about two dozen Colorado farmers grew marijuana’s non-intoxicating cousin in the summer. This is the first known harvest of the industrial version of Cannabis sativa in the U.S. since the late 1950s. (AP Photo/Kristen Wyatt)

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — An Indiana House committee has approved a bill lawmakers say will help speed up the federal approval process to grow industrial hemp in Indiana.

House Agriculture Committee members unanimously passed a proposal Thursday that would specify the exemption of industrial hemp from the state’s marijuana laws.

A non-intoxicating cousin of marijuana, hemp is used for many legal products including clothing and oil. It cannot be grown under federal law without permission.

The proposal comes in the wake of an Indiana law passed last year that legalized the cultivation and processing of industrial hemp once federal officials approve.

Bill co-sponsor Republican Rep. William Friend of Macy says the state’s application for federal approval is still pending and he hopes the clarification will speed up the process.

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