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Oregon adopts rules allowing industrial hemp crops

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Oregon farmers could plant the state’s first industrial hemp crop this spring, a full year before businesses expect to start growing marijuana for recreational use, a state official said on Tuesday.

Farmers can grow the hemp in exchange for a $1,500 licensing fee and testing to confirm their crop does not possess enough intoxicating chemicals to get people high, said Agriculture Department manager Ron Pence.

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But would-be growers of industrial hemp face a host of complications, including cannabis being illegal at the federal level even as prosecutors have cautiously allowed state experiments to go forward. So far, no one has applied for a license, Pence added.

“It’s not clear if there’s an adequate seed supply,” Pence said, noting that federal regulations made it virtually impossible for growers to legally import seeds into the state. Once hemp is grown, federal law also prohibits producers from selling outside Oregon.

Marijuana, used by some for its intoxicating effects, and hemp, used to make clothing, paper, biofuels, foods and cosmetics, are different varieties of the same species of Cannabis sativa plant.

Nationwide, 19 states have passed legislation to allow some measure of industrial hemp production, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Last year, Kentucky, Colorado and Vermont became the first states to report legal harvests of the product, according to the Hemp Industries Association.

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Oregon’s industrial hemp law, passed by the state Legislature in 2009, is being implemented at the same time as state regulators draft rules governing the recreational use of marijuana under a ballot initiative voters passed last year.

Officials at the Oregon Liquor Control Commission said on Tuesday that individuals would be allowed to grow small amounts of recreational pot for personal use starting on July 1, with commercial sales likely beginning in late 2016.

Industrial hemp grown in the state must contain less than 0.3 percent THC, the active ingredient in pot.

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Farmers have criticized the state’s fledgling industrial hemp program for banning growers from manufacturing products from hemp seeds, which are commonly used to make cosmetics and food additives.

Rules also require growers to make a three-year commitment to the program, when some are only interested in growing hemp for a year on a trial basis, Pence said, adding the state Legislature was working to address some of the concerns.

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(Reporting by Courtney Sherwood; Editing by Eric M. Johnson and Peter Cooney)


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The end of King Bibi? Indicted Netanyahu fights for future

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Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu's indictment on corruption charges prompted speculation Friday that the end of his decade-long tenure as 'King Bibi' is nigh.

The Jewish state woke up to an indicted sitting prime minister for the first time, after the country's attorney general announced late Thursday he had charged the 70-year-old with bribery, fraud, and breach of trust.

After months of speculation Avichai Mandelblit's decision was the worst possible outcome for Netanyahu, hitting him with the most serious charges.

Israel's longest-serving premier swiftly hit back, vowing to fight on and accusing the police and legal system of bias against the right-wing in an often angry speech.

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First Saudi woman driver to race car in kingdom

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Sliding behind the wheel of a sleek electric SUV, Reema Juffali is set to blaze a trail in male-dominated motor sports as the first Saudi woman to race in the kingdom.

Such adrenalin rushes were unimaginable for women in the ultra-conservative Islamic kingdom until June last year, when it overturned the world's only ban on female motorists as part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's wide-ranging liberalization drive.

Juffali, a 27-year-old who made her motoring debut just months after the decades-old ban ended, will compete Friday and Saturday in the Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY, an all-electric race in Diriyah, close to the capital Riyadh.

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‘This is the president of betrayal’: MSNBC’s Donny Deutsch explains how Democrats can use impeachment to defeat Trump in 2020

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Democrats don't appear to have convinced Senate Republicans to convict President Donald Trump, but MSNBC's Donny Deutsch said they can use findings from the impeachment hearings to campaign against him next year.

The "Morning Joe" contributor urged Democrats to develop a coherent theme based on the findings turned up by House investigators to convince voters to do what congressional Republicans aren't willing to do -- remove the president from office.

"Does anybody know 'Bob Loves Abishola'?" Deutsch asked. "That's a show on CBS, you know, had about five, six million viewers the other night. That's what these hearings have done. We live in a little bit of a bubble that we sit here and we watch. The reality is, when you look at that new Emerson poll where we've lost 5 percent of people who even believe he should be impeached and 14 percent removed from office."

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