Industrial Hemp in Minnesota?: Senator Eken Paves the Way for New Industry

Could the use of industrial hemp soon be bringing jobs and environmentally-friendly products to Minnesota? Senator Kent Eken of Twin Valley is leading the charge to re-introduce Minnesotans to industrial hemp. According to Senator Eken, Minnesotans currently import about $500,000,000 of hemp-made products. Senator Eken states, “Why don’t we just manufacture it (hemp) here and create those jobs here at home?”

This bill doesn’t go as far as allowing the manufacturing of industrial hemp, but it does allow the research, and according to the Senator, the University of Minnesota has expressed interest in taking part in this field of study. Senator Eken also explained that during World War II, there was a mass effort to raise more hemp, and Minnesota was actually one of the, “largest producers of industrial hemp” because of how well it grows in this environment.

According to Senator Kent, industrial hemp is very versatile, and the list of uses is surprisingly long, stating, “You can make fuel from it, and food with it, it’s even been known to help people with epilepsy.” Senator Kent goes on to say, “It’s also being used for insulation in homes, it’s being used to make concrete, it’s the most versatile crop there is out there and so there is a lot of potential, and there is a lot of untapped potential that could be found through the research…uses we haven’t even thought of yet.”

The bill has passed through a number of committees with ease, despite some backlash from local law enforcement agencies who, according to Senator Kent, have expressed concern over how similar the plant looks to marijuana. Senator Kent believes that it’s important to remember that you, “can’t get high from it (industrial hemp),” and believes that he has addressed, “most of the issues law enforcement have with it.”

Alpha News will continue to cover Senate File (SF) 618 as it makes its way through the State Legislature.

Julia Erynn