ATLANTA, MI– Could industrial hemp be the next cash crop for northern Michigan farmers? A group in Montmorency County hopes so.

Everett Swift went before the Montmorency County Board of Commissioners Wednesday morning urging them to pass a resolution that would open up opportunities for farmers to cultivate industrial hemp.

“It’s got over 25,000 different uses,” Swift said. “Textiles, biofuels, they’re making biodegradable plastics, concrete, building materials.”

Currently it’s legal to sell hemp products, however it’s illegal to cultivate, or grow, hemp without a permit from the federal government. While hemp and marijuana both belong in the cannabis plant family, supporters of the pro-industrial hemp resolution say they are very different.

“The difference, it’s like a male and female plant,” said Jolene Fowler, a local hemp jewelry business owner. “Hemp doesn’t flower, it doesn’t have any narcotic effects.”

During Wednesday’s highly attended county commission meeting, supporters took turns expressing their views on the topic. In the end the Montmorency County Commission declined to take any action on the topic. It’s not clear if or when they’ll revisit the issue.

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