Montana: Helena Valley Hemp Crop Dries up amid Stagnant Legal Dispute

It turns out seedlings dry out in the Montana sun quicker than the federal government can act.

A 12-acre crop of hemp plants in the Helena Valley died after getting caught up in a legal dispute over water access this summer.

Kim Phillips, the hemp farmer, was in full compliance with state and federal regulations on industrial hemp, according to Cort Jensen, attorney for the state agriculture department. But access to a federally controlled water source left her crops hanging in the void as the summer heat crept in.

Phillips was denied access to water by the Helena Valley Irrigation District and Bureau of Reclamation in June because the marijuana-related plant was deemed ineligible for federally controlled water.

Her plea for help was heard by U.S. Sens. Steve Daines and Jon Tester, who together introduced bipartisan legislation last month to clarify conflicting laws.

The Industrial Hemp Water Rights Act, an amendment...

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