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HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) – Pennsylvania is asking the federal government to approve its state plan to regulate industrial hemp growers and has given conditional approval to applicants to start growing it commercially.

The state Department of Agriculture said Wednesday it approved 84 permit applications and that the applicants have until Feb. 1 to pay a fee and sign an agreement.

Shown is a field of cannabis plants selected for their low content of THC. Cannabis is the source of hemp, which is used in a variety of applications including insulation, textiles, rope and paper. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

The federal government last year legalized the production of industrial hemp, a commodity that’s generally been barred because it is related to marijuana, even though it contains little of that drug’s key psychoactive ingredient, THC.

The federal government had approved a pilot program in the 2014 farm bill to research hemp under state regulation. Pennsylvania’s state plan ultimately would require all growers to register and obtain permits through the state Department of Agriculture.

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