Alaskan officials aren’t sure if an industrial hemp program will be worth funding in the state after spending much of 2019 developing proposed rules and regulations.
Mike Dunleavy, a Republican Governor, cut $375,000 from the state budget for the industrial hemp program. His reasoning is that there is currently no industry to support a state-funded program. However, the cut might not save the state any money. The state can’t have a legal industry without a state pilot program.
The original program was intended to be paid for by application and registration fees.
The Division of Agriculture laid off 17 employees which accounted for more than half its staff. The Department of Natural Resources’ Plant Material Center had to close two greenhouses because they did not have enough workers to care for the plants. The staff started growing plants in April, but by August most of the plants had been destroyed.
The state took these measures just a few days before the USDA announced that it was working on federal hemp production regulations. The USDA later released those regulations later in the fall.
Until the state restarts its own hemp program, the remaining industry will be subject to federal regulations.
Earlier, in June, the state toyed with the idea of rewarding farmers who grow certified cultivars of hemp that are known to have low THC with lower testing fees.
Alaska is late to adopt the current CBD boom, the state did not have any hemp production in 2018. This from a territory that grew hemp before Alaska became a state in 1959.