MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — In 2016, the Alabama Legislature passed the Alabama Industrial Hemp Research Program Act, Section 2-8-380 Code of Alabama 1975, tasking ADAI with the development of a licensing and inspection program for the production of industrial hemp.

The program launched in 2019, after The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (i.e. Farm Bill) declassified hemp as a Schedule I drug and deemed hemp as an agriculture commodity.

This legislation defines hemp as all parts of the plant containing less than 0.3% THC, including derivatives, extracts, and cannabinoids.

“As the hemp industry continues to grow in Alabama, critical research data is being collected and evaluated,” said Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries Rick Pate.  “This is the department’s third year to administer the hemp program. It has always been our goal to manage the program in a fair and timely manner to benefit Alabama farmers and hemp producers and develop industrial hemp as an alternative crop.”

The 2021 University/College Affiliation License Application information will be forthcoming before the first week in November 2020.

For more information and updates, click here. ADAI will receive Industrial Hemp applications until 5:00 p.m. on Nov. 30.

 McMillan Arrington and his business partner Coleman Beale started BastCore back in 2014. The two men are processors of hemp for industrial purposes.

“With the changing laws back in 2012 2013 around cannabis, we saw an opportunity there to start educating ourselves and getting involved,” Arrington said.

They say they’ve built a state-of-the-art processing facility in Montgomery. They contract with farmers in the area who ask.

“Our primary focus has been on textiles and apparel, shirts and pants,” Beale said.

Beale says the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the weakness in the supply chain around the country, which is why their company is now exploring ways to make personal protective equipment from hemp. 

Pate says it’s worth doing your research before signing up.

“It’s like any farming venture that probably the better ones will make money. It’s like most businesses, the ones that aren’t good farmers or don’t know what they’re doing or hadn’t done their homework probably won’t” Pate said.