Indiana lawmakers will consider the legalization of hemp.
“I’m optimistic that the industrial hemp will get passed in Indiana in 2019,” said Greg Baumbaugh, CEO of FlexForm Technologies in Elkhart.
Legalized hemp would make a world of difference for FlexForm which now has a warehouse packed with huge bundles of fibrous materials that come from all around the world.
“Well we're importing roughly 80,000 pounds of natural fiber a week, into our facility. That’s two containers, and it all comes primarily either from southeast Asia, or Europe,” Baumbaugh said.
The foreign fiber is mixed with a resin and molded into car parts including door panels.
FlexForm’s CEO has long wondered by making car parts should require the use of so many ships. “Why do we have to import our material from 8,000 miles away when from here to Louisville is all the farther this material goes.”
The door panels in question are part of a car that is assembled at the Ford plant in Louisville.
Baumbaugh says he could drop hemp into the production process “right away, if it was available.”
But industrial hemp is not yet available in Indiana like it is in 13 other states. Baumbaugh feels next year could be the year for change.
“It’s not like you can smoke this stuff, it's a plant that grows 12 feet talk, it’s a stalk,” claimed Baumbaugh. “I've not yet run into anybody that has a problem with industrial hemp using the fiber for raw materials, what happens is it gets thrown in the medical marijuana it gets thrown in with CBD and then that just confuses everything.”
There is no confusion about the mission of the Interim Study Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources which has been told it “will not look into issues related to medical marijuana."
However, issues related to medical marijuana will be included in the duties of the Interim Study Committee on Public Health, Behavioral Health, and Human Services.