Is There Still Hope for Industrial Hemp? | The Latest Hemp Industry News | lancasterfarming.com – Lancaster Farming

World history shows the use of hemp for thousands of years.

In the 17th century, the King James Bible was printed on hemp paper. The Declaration of Independence was also drafted on hemp paper. George Washington encouraged farmers to grow hemp saying, “Sow …….

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World history shows the use of hemp for thousands of years.

In the 17th century, the King James Bible was printed on hemp paper. The Declaration of Independence was also drafted on hemp paper. George Washington encouraged farmers to grow hemp saying, “Sow it everywhere.” Thomas Jefferson called hemp “one of the greatest and most important substances of our nation.” For over 150 years, farmers could pay federal taxes with hemp.

In the late 1800s, many families kept a small bottle of cannabis oil in their medicine cabinets to alleviate various ailments. Fast forward to the 20th century and Henry Ford’s hemp car. Although not entirely made of hemp, it was indeed powered by a diesel type engine that ran on hemp oil squeezed from hemp seeds.

High Times

But there was another use of hemp that emerged in the early 1900s that caused this multi-use crop to draw the ire of the federal government — marijuana.

Tetrahydrocannabinol is the cannabinoid associated with marijuana. When smoked or consumed, hemp strains with elevated THC levels cause a psychoactive effect commonly known as getting “high.” THC levels in marijuana plants can be over 15%. Hemp has many other cannabinoids, the most familiar being cannabidiol.

Halting Hemp

Due to this small subsample of the hemp plant family with elevated levels of THC, hemp was considered a drug and was essentially banned by the 1937 Marihuana Tax Act. A helpful analogy would be that it’s like banning paper because it’s used to roll cigarettes.

Other forces were in cahoots with banning hemp as well. Industries such as textiles, pulp and the emerging pharmaceutical corporations fell into lockstep with the government as they felt threatened by all the benefits hemp had to offer for small scale farmers and those who wanted to grow their own medicine.

Hope on the Horizon

For the past 20 or so years, various groups and organizations have petitioned politicians in an effort to bring this plant back to the fields where it once thrived. In the years 2000 and 2001, I cooperated with Penn State University and the Lancaster County Farm Bureau by growing research plots of fiber crops such as flax, kenaf and sun hemp in an effort to showcase the benefits of fiber crops. But we were ahead of our time, as the political climate was not conducive to move forward with legalization of fiber-type hemp.

However, little by little, momentum grew and in December of 2018 the Farm Bill opened up the opportunity of growing hemp as long as it tested below 0.3% THC. This ultra-low percentage of THC ensured that psychoactive effects would be impossible. CBD was in very high demand due to its popular use for alleviating pain, inflammation and as a sleep aid. It was also realized that pets and horses could benefit as well.

Prices rolled out to farmers in the spring of 2019 were astronomical — $30,000 or more profit per acre. Euphoria ensued and thousands of acres of CBD hemp were planted across the nation. But the infrastructure was all but nonexistent and the worst-case scenarios became reality as prices plunged below the cost of production.

To this day, that is still the case. Fewer acres of CBD hemp were planted this past year, yet interest in fiber, seed and textile type hemp is beginning to gather momentum. This type of hemp seems to be the bright spot now, but there still is significant infrastructure that needs to be built and maintained.

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Source: https://www.lancasterfarming.com/farming/industrial_hemp/is-there-still-hope-for-industrial-hemp/article_5041db3e-3360-11ec-ab2d-7fa677defa07.html

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