States that have recently legalized hemp for cultivation are now preparing for their first hemp harvests. At least 40 states have legalized the use of hemp to some extent. Hemp is the cousin of marijuana, but it contains less than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and is often used to extract cannabidiol (CBD). Farmers plan to use this year’s crop to create CBD products, clothing, food, and as a learning experience to grow improved crops in the future. With hemp becoming more popular in society and the possibility of hemp becoming legal federally, the future grows ever brighter for the hemp and CBD industries.
Farmers in Wisconsin and South Carolina are preparing for their first legalized hemp harvests as part of their respective state’s hemp pilot programs.
Wisconsin farmers must apply to be a part of the program. Accepted applicants have to pass a background check for prior drug use, submit a plan for hemp research, and provide the GPS coordinates of where they would grow their hemp.
Only 20 permits were available for applicants of South Carolina’s pilot program.
Farmers from both states look at this first crop as more of a learning experience rather than a harvest to cash in on.
“This first year, it’s really about harvesting genetics,” said Nat Bradford, one of the 20 permit holders for growing hemp in South Carolina. “We want to have strong seeds that have proven themselves through this first season.”
Hemp’s growing popularity stems from its wide variety of uses. Hemp fibers can be used to make clothing, while its seeds are a source of food, biodiesel, and can be processed into a nutritional oil.
Additionally, hemp is a significant source of CBD. CBD is extracted from hemp to create many CBD-based products. Since hemp contains negligible amounts of THC, using CBD oil processed from hemp will have no possibility of making a user “high.”
As increasingly more states pass legislation loosening restrictions on hemp, it seems to be only a matter of time until the entire country legalizes the multi-use plant.
The 2018 Farm Bill, which expires on September 30 if not voted on, could streamline the process. As of now, hemp is federally legal, but only through state pilot programs. If passed, the Farm Bill includes language that would completely legalize hemp.
Full federal legalization could lead to hemp becoming the most significant agricultural commodity since tobacco.
In addition to expanding the hemp industry, fewer restrictions on hemp will consequently bolster the CBD market as well.
With full legalization seemingly near, the cultivation of hemp has the potential to improve significantly the livelihood of farmers and consumers alike.
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