BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - State officials this week are deciding who gets to take part in a program this year to test whether industrial hemp could be a viable crop in North Dakota.
17 producers applied and 11 of the applications were deemed eligible. An advisory committee on Monday identified its top choices. Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring will make the final decisions.
North Dakota issued the nation's first hemp-growing licenses in 2007 but efforts to establish the industry in the state were hampered by federal drug law, which doesn't differentiate between hemp and its illegal cousin marijuana.
A provision in the 2014 federal farm bill allowed for universities and state agriculture departments to research hemp in states that permit its cultivation. A bill pending in Congress would go further, separating industrial hemp and marijuana.