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The Future of Hemp in the United States

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Thirty-one states have defined industrial hemp as distinct and removed barriers to its production. These states will be able to take immediate advantage of the hemp research and pilot program provision of Section 7606 of the Farm Bill:

Alabama, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia and Virginia.

I have chosen three of these states to spotlight the future of industrial hemp in the USA.

Virginia

The home page of the Virginia Industrial Hemp Coalition’s website has four clickable opportunities:
1. Sign the Petition
2. Join the Newsletter
3. Contact Your Legislator
4. Email Your Congressman

This is how we as citizens control the future of hemp in America.

The future of hemp is looking bright in Virginia. US Representative, Bob Goodlatte has jumped into legislation allowing farmers to start industrial hemp production. He says, “Now it is time to move from research to commercial production in the United States.”

Go, Bob!

The feet on the ground are all for marching forward, but hemp needs to come off of the Controlled Substance List. There are two ways this can happen.

Congress may choose to enact legislation to amend the list and the DEA can administratively remove it from the list.

Currently the bill is stuck in House Judiciary Committee where it has been for two years and different organizations are petitioning the DEA.

Jason Amatucci of the Virginia Industrial Hemp Coalition believes that only time will tell, but things are at a standstill until legislation changes.

Kentucky

Growing hemp in Kentucky means something different for everyone who does it.

For Alyssa Erickson and Kirsten Bohnert, the “Kentucky Hempsters,” it means using their talents to reshape perceptions of central Appalachia.

For Mike Lewis, it means getting veterans back to work.

For Stephanie Brown, a weaver in Louisville, it means bringing old textile design to life in a new way.

For David Williams, a professor at University of Kentucky, it means incredible scientific access to research a crop that has been illegal for his entire life.

All eyes are on Kentucky where bipartisan support led by US Sen. Rand Paul, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer have made the state a leader in industrial hemp production.

In 2017 the Kentucky Department of Agriculture has approved 209 applications from growers who will plant 12,800 acres of hemp for research purposes.

But until Congress removes industrial hemp from the list of controlled substances, the state plans to just keep working to position itself as a leader in hemp production.

Colorado

Mike Sullivan is the founder of Hemp Farm Colorado, an 80 acre hemp farm near Brighton, CO. He says, “We’re kind of in a little niche market in Colorado, but there is definitely interest.” “It’s a work in progress, my first year I grew 7 acres and I was the largest in the state.”

The hemp industry in Colorado has developed significantly since it was established in 2014. According to the CO Dept of Agriculture, almost 9,000 acres of land were registered to grow industrial hemp in 2016. That was a 145% increase over two years.

Despite its agricultural benefits growing industrial hemp is still illegal on the federal level and U.S has to rely on importing hemp products from other countries where hemp is already well-developed and in some cases, subsidized by the government.

Margaret MacKenzie raises hemp on Colorado’s Western Slope. She and her team are only able to to plant 15 of her Salt Creek acres to hemp because they have cattle that they need to raise hay for. But, she believes that her biggest contribution to the Hemp Revolution is to promote hemp farming on the Western Slope to get some money into the hands of farmers who have really been suffering.

For years, the only crop that was making any money was beans. Anyone growing anything else has not been making it. Margaret wants to be a voice for these farmers who are looking for a viable solution to their many challenges.

Mike Sullivan believes that hemp is going to be a leader in the agricultural community in Colorado and the nation. But that will only happen if we can get our American supply of hemp to a level where we can compete with the rest of the world.

The future is bright for hemp cultivation and when our elected officials clear the roadblocks to let let farmers grow hemp, we will experience all the blessings of industrial hemp. Hemp Heals. Everything.

Cat Stone
Colorado Hemp Clothing

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