Government shutdown halts new applications to grow and process hemp in Utah
People who apply for a license to grow or process hemp in Utah may have to wait until the government shutdown is over.
New applicants are required to pass an FBI criminal background check before submitting the application to the Utah Department of Agriculture and food.
Right now, the FBI is not doing the background checks.
“It could keep someone from getting their business underway,” said Jack Wilbur, Spokesman for the Utah Dept. of Agriculture and Food which issues the licenses to hemp producers and growers.
Wilbur said so far, the state has issued licenses to eight hemp growers and three processors since the start of November when a new state law made them available.
The department became aware of the background check issue when applicants called saying they couldn’t get the background checks.
Wilbur said it’s not clear how many potential applicants could be affected but he said there has been a lot of interest from individuals who want licenses to grow and process hemp for products like CBD oil.
Landon Moran, CEO of Moran Hager Hemp Company, is one of the first to get a license to grow hemp in Utah.
He and his brother-in-law, Michael Hager who is president of their new company, partnered to start the business in Utah County.
Currently, they are testing an indoor, aquaponic system on basil and tomato plants.
Very soon, they will start using it to produce hemp plants and seeds for sale to farmers who will then sell the fully-grown plants to processors.
Moran, who said hemp has thousands of uses, feels fortunate he got his license early – before the government shutdown.
He plans to sell his first crop by the end of May.
Hemp, he said, is projected to be a very lucrative business.
“They are predicting it being a billion dollar market in 2020 and I don’t see that being too far off,” he said.