North Dakota Officials in Bismarck issued the nation's first licenses to grow industrial hemp Tuesday to two farmers who still must meet federal requirements before they can plant the crop.
The farmers must get approval from the Drug Enforcement Administration, which treats hemp much the way it does marijuana and has not allowed commercial hemp production but has said it would consider applications to grow it.
Hemp is a cousin of marijuana that contains trace amounts of the chemical that causes a marijuana high, though hemp does not produce the same effects. The sturdy, fibrous plant is used to make an assortment of products including paper, rope, clothing and cosmetics.
Industrial hemp cultivation is legal in Canada and other countries but is banned in the United States. Law enforcement officials worry that industrial hemp can shield the growing of marijuana.