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Bill would set up Vt. permits for hemp farming

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) -- The Agriculture Committee of the Vermont House is taking testimony on legislation that would have the state issue permits for something the federal government regards as illegal — growing hemp.

Hemp comes from the same plant that produces marijuana, though it is raised differently, and supporters of the bill say there's little risk that hemp will be diverted for the drug trade. But it remains illegal under federal law.

Hemp is widely praised for its multiple uses as a heating fuel, provider of fabric for cloth and rope, construction material, paint and other purposes.

Rep. Carolyn Partridge, the chairwoman of the Agriculture Committee, says the issue could end up with a court challenge seeking to overturn the federal ban on hemp.