BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota’s Agriculture Department is launching a research program to help determine whether industrial hemp can be a viable commodity in the state.

It comes eight years after the department issued the nation’s first hemp-growing licenses. Efforts to further the industry in the years that followed were hampered by federal drug law that doesn’t differentiate between marijuana and its cousin hemp, which can be used for a variety of products.

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The 2014 farm bill changed that. It allows for research of hemp in states like North Dakota that permit its cultivation.

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North Dakota State University already has started hemp research at its Langdon center. The state now plans a program, and is taking applications from people and groups who want to participate. The deadline is Jan. 1.

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