Confusion surrounds Wisconsin hemp law

MADISON, Wisc. (WTMJ/NBC News) Wisconsin’s recent decision to lift a 75-year-old ban on industrial hemp production is facing stiff opposition from the state’s attorney general.

Wisconsin lawmakers lifted a ban on hemp six months ago. For the first time in 75 years, Wisconsinites can grow, process and sell it if they pass a background check for drug convictions.

“Were licensed to process it, import it, export it, sample it and sell it,” says Joel Peterson.

Peterson thought he was clear to open his new business, Priceland Hemp, but now the State Attorney General’s office is threatening to take legal action against him.

Peterson said he has sold around $30,000 worth of product since. One of the hottest items is hemp oil called cannabidiol or CBD for short. Unlike marijuana, it doesn’t produce a high.

“A lot of the people we work with have cancer,” Peterson says.

Attorney General Brad Schimel sent a letter to both Priceland Hemp and law enforcement across the state. It read in part, “an individual may possess CBD only if he/she has a doctor’s certification …. only a physician or pharmacy may sell CBD.” Schimel also said CBD oil cannot be processed in the state.

“My first reaction was disbelief,” says Rob Richard with the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation. “I was surprised they waited this long to do something like this.”

More than 70 farmers have been approved to grow industrial hemp this year, but Richard argues Schimel’s ruling renders the crop useless in Wisconsin.

“For those farmers who are growing hemp for the purpose of producing CBD oil, those farmers that are contracted with processors, they are out of luck,” Richard says.

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