Farm Bureau blindsided by DOJ decision on CBD oil - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Farm Bureau blindsided by DOJ decision on CBD oil

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Now that growing industrial hemp is legal in Wisconsin, farmers were looking forward to making big profits from the industry, but say a last minute move by The Department of Justice will prevent that from happening.

The Department of Agriculture Trade and Consumer Protection has received about 350 applications to grow industrial hemp. Wisconsin’s Farm Bureau Federation said a majority of those growing would use the hemp towards CBD oil.

On April 27, 2018, just three days before the cutoff to apply for a license, DOJ released a memo stating “holding a DATCP license does not authorize you to produce or sell CBD oil or CBD products.” Rob Richard, Senior Director of Governmental Relations at the Farm Bureau, said this was unexpected and is now considering taking legal action against the DOJ.

Richard said he openly discussed with hemp bill authors state Rep. Patrick Testin (R-Stevens Point)  and Rep. Jesse Kremer (R-Kewaskum) about using hemp for CBD oil and other products.

"We discussed that CBD oil was going to be produced,” said Richard. “To do this late and not give anyone a heads up, especially all the planning that has occurred, is incredibly disheartening."

CBD, is a cannabis compound used by some medical professionals to treat things like anxiety and depression. The DOJ views CBD as dangerous and harmful. “The guidance recently issued by DOJ does not contradict state law. It restates state and federal law on the issue of CBD oil, and is intended to assist local law enforcement and prosecutors who have raised questions on this topic," said DOJ spokesperson Johnny Koremenos.

Jeff Ditzenberger argues the compound is safe and helps him get through his PTSD, depression and anxiety.

"I'm not taking any other prescription drugs,” said Ditzenberger. “My anxiety is pretty much gone, I haven't had a migraine since I started taking it and about two weeks afterwards, my PTSD is more manageable."

Dizenberger and Richard believe the move by DOJ could result in legal ramifications, because some farmers were already planning to invest millions in this industry.

“I've had people from six different states call me to say 'We were going to come in and build multi-million dollar facilities,” said Richard. “We have cultivators and clones on the way and investments ready to go and now it’s been put to a halt.”

Richard said the dairy industry is already suffering. In 2017, the state lost about 500 dairy farms and this week Arla Foods announced it’s cutting contracts with 11 farms. Richard believes hemp could be a way out for hundreds of farmers to revive their profits.

"If I'm a farmer and I was contracted with somebody who wants to produce a CBD oil, not only am I looking at making a good profit, but now that's been taken away for me,” said Richard. “In a market that commodity prices and milk prices are absolutely horrible this is another horrible thing for farmers to have happen.”

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