City Could Become Hemp Grower
Common Council commissions study of feasibility of hemp farm for Century City.
A new kind of farm could be coming to Milwaukee.
Hemp is a variant of Cannabis sativa that is grown for products, including dietary and health supplements, biodegradable plastics, skin products and clothing. The plant, sometimes called industrial hemp, is part of the same family as marijuana, which led to it being banned in 1970 under the U.S. Controlled Substances Act. But that ban was recently overturned through the 2018 Farm Bill. Wisconsin had legalized the cultivation and processing of hemp through the Industrial Hemp Research Program in 2017.
DCD has been instructed to study the matter for 90 days and report back on the feasibility of establishing a farm, likely with greenhouses, at the former Tower Automotive site.
“I think this could be a tremendous opportunity for the site,” said Alderwoman Milele A. Coggs at a meeting of the council’s Zoning, Neighborhoods & Development Committee. The committee unanimously endorsed the study.
DCD representative Dave Misky said the department will also look at how having the operation located within a federally-designated Opportunity Zone could impact its feasibility. “It’s all part of the research we have to do,” said Misky. The zones, created in the 2017 tax overhaul, allow investors access to defer and reduce capital gains taxes by investing in disadvantaged areas.
One thing committee members hope the study can also address is the proliferation of cannabidiol or CBD stores. New shops selling the product, made from hemp, have opened across the city.
The city’s resolution notes that the estimated total retail value of hemp products in the United States in 2017 was $820 million. The market is expected to grow dramatically in the coming years. A private group hosted a hemp and CBD convention in Milwaukee in early 2018.
The measure must still be approved by the full Common Council, which is scheduled to meet on February 26th.
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