Final passage of a bill that would legalize the agricultural production of hemp in Nebraska has been delayed.
Before final reading of LB 657 Wednesday morning, Senator Justin Wayne returned the measure to select file for technical amendments related to oversight of the program by the Nebraska Agriculture Department.
The move opened the door for opponents of the bill, with Senator John Lowe saying the measure is just a part of the marijuana industry’s plan. “I’m convinced the real purpose of this bill is not to help farmers, or provide raw materials for clothing or industrial purposes,” said Lowe. “The real purpose of this bill is to provide the groundwork for legalizing marijuana.”
Wayne countered that with approval of hemp production in the 2018 Federal farm bill, it’s time for Nebraska to get involved with production of the industrial crop. “Now, whether the market gets saturated or not, that is a business decision that farmers should be able to make, and do make, every time they decide to plant something or not plant something,” said Wayne, “And I believe they can make that decision.”
Wayne’s amendment was approved, and the bill once again given second-round approval, this time on a 44-2 vote. A delay of at least one more day is expected before the measure can appear on the legislative agenda for a final vote.