Experts are finalizing a report that could take Mississippi one step closer to growing a new hemp industry in the state. MPB's Ashley Norwood reports.
Members of the Hemp Cultivation Task Force are approving their 35 page report and sending it to the Legislature next week. Their final meeting was Wednesday in Jackson. The report, which will be considered by legislators, points out the positive potential and significant risks of growing hemp in Mississippi.
Agriculture Commissioner Andy Gipson chairs the task force.
"I think the Legislature's going to hear four committee reports that pertain to the opportunities, the economic potential of this crop, potential for job creation, potential for processing facilities and they're going to hear some proposed recommendations as to how this could be regulated and monitored if the Legislature decides to legalize this crop," said Gipson.
Gipson says there are some law enforcement concerns to consider as well.
Department of Public Safety Commissioner Marshall Fisher is a member of the task force and chair of its law enforcement committee.
"The naked eye cannot distinguish a marijuana plant from the hemp plant. We don't have a field test to distinguish between marijuana and hemp and the canines that are used in narcotics detective work only alert to THC. They can't differentiate between a hemp plant and a marijuana plant," said Fisher.
Hemp is an illegal substance under Mississippi law. The Legislature would have to amend the control substance statute in order to legalize the growth of hemp. Ashley Norwood, MPB News.