TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Department of Agriculture hopes to start issuing licenses for farmers to grow industrial hemp in time for next year's spring planting season.

Agency spokeswoman Heather Lansdowne told the Lawrence Journal-World on Friday that proposed rules and regulations were submitted earlier in the week to the Department of Administration. That's the first step in a long process required to establish an industrial hemp program in Kansas.

The program will initially allow growing hemp only for research. But officials said in an economic impact statement that a successful research-based pilot program may lead to the eventual legalization of commercial industrial hemp.

Kansas lawmakers in April authorized the agriculture department to issue licenses allowing industrial hemp for research, and for other businesses to research potential commercial uses of the crop.

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Information from: Lawrence (Kan.) Journal-World, http://www.ljworld.com