The government shutdown is preventing farmers from growing hemp

(FILES) In this file photo taken on May 20, 2010, shopping bags and bath products (R) are among the many hemp products for sale at the "Capitol Hemp" store in the Adams Morgan neighborhood of Washington, DC. - The US Congress on December 12, 2018, approved the legalization of large-scale hemp cultivation and its removal from a list of controlled substances. "This is the culmination of a lot of work by a number of us here in Washington but really the victory is for the growers, processors, manufacturers and consumers who stand to benefit from this growing market place," US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said. (Photo by TIM SLOAN / AFP)TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images
TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images
Shopping bags and bath products were among the many hemp products for sale at the "Capitol Hemp" store in the Adams Morgan neighborhood of Washington, D.C., in May 2010.

Marijuana Moment is a wire service assembled by Tom Angell, a marijuana legalization activist and journalist covering marijuana reform nationwide. The views expressed by Angell or Marijuana Moment are neither endorsed by the Globe nor do they reflect the Globe’s views on any subject area.

Prospective hemp farmers in Utah will have to wait out the government shutdown before they’re able to legally grow the crop.

Utah started allowing hemp cultivation under a state Department of Agriculture and Food program in November in accordance with research-focused provisions of the prior federal Farm Bill that was passed in 2014. But before farmers can take advantage of the program, they must submit regulatory plans to the agency — and pass an FBI background check.

The problem? FBI personnel responsible for conducting the background checks are furloughed because of the shutdown.


“It could keep someone from getting their business underway,” Jack Wilbur, spokesperson for the Utah agriculture department, told Salt Lake City’s KUTV.

Get Today's Headlines in your inbox:
The day's top stories delivered every morning.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

Presumably, this issue also would affect cultivation applicants in other states such as Minnesota and Pennsylvania that have hemp pilot programs with federal background check requirements, as well as licensing processes for broader marijuana legalization or medical cannabis laws that involve the FBI record checks.

If the shutdown isn’t resolved for a significant period of time, the situation could become even more problematic with respect to the new 2018 Farm Bill that federally legalized hemp. One reason why is that under the legislation, individuals with felony drug convictions are barred from participating in the industry for 10 years after the offense.

While federal hemp legalization officially took effect on Tuesday, it’s expected to take some time before farmers can legally cultivate the crop because states must first submit their program plans to the US Department of Agriculture for approval.

Read this story on Marijuana Moment.