by Adam Ghassemi
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A number of new state laws went into effect Tuesday, but one could plant a seed for the Tennessee's future.
Industrial hemp is now legal, though the state Department of Agriculture which will oversee it has yet to establish complete rules for growers.
David Waddell, administrative manager for the department's Consumer and Industries Services Division, has been working on bringing industrial hemp to Tennessee for some time.
Now the Volunteer State is among a few others to classify hemp as a legal crop.
"We're getting in on the ground floor,” Waddell said.
Hemp can be used to make a number of products from lotions, oils, foods, paper products and clothing. Legal hemp can't have more than 0.3% of the chemical THC, which causes people to get high. Anything more potent is legally considered marijuana.
Waddell said the state is still finalizing the rules, but anyone growing hemp will have to register, provide what type of seeds they're using, be monitored during the harvest season and even offer GPS coordinates of where their crop is located.
"So that you won't be confused with an illegal grower,” he said. "We really want to know a lot about what is going on so we can use it as a learning process."
So far a number of people have already inquired about becoming growers, which could mean anyone from small farmers to big producers that could create new jobs.
The issue now is any seeds to grow industrial hemp have to be imported from other countries.