Russia may soon authorize the cultivation of hemp - otherwise known as cannabis sativa - for agricultural and industrial needs, Russia's Federal Drug Control Service said on Friday.
On September 28, the country's State Anti-drug Committee will decide whether to allow the cultivation of hemp, currently prohibited in Russia.
Russia was a world leading producer of hemp, used as a source of oil, food, fibers, housing and industrial materials, until 1961 when the Soviet Union ratified the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs which declared cannabis - along with heroin - a highly toxic narcotic.
Russia is currently one of the world's biggest importers of hemp fibers and oil, the country's drug control watchdog said in a statement.
In 2007, the government relaxed legislation on the planting of hemp.
Russia is estimated to have at least one million hectares of illegal cannabis, planted mainly on the fringes of the country, in the Far East and Black Sea region. About 2,000 hectares are used to grow hemp, an anti-drug official said.
The official said that a revival of hemp's industrial usage will help "to create new jobs and reduce social tensions in the regions, which are abundant with illegal wild cannabis."