Kentucky: Move Over Tobacco… Make Room for Hemp

After nearly 80 years of prohibition, hemp is making a comeback in the Bluegrass State where tobacco once ruled.

Kentucky began growing hemp for research purposes after the decades-long federal ban was lifted by President Obama when he signed the 2014 Farm Bill, which removed hemp, if grown for research purposes, from the Controlled Substances Act. 

Kentucky Hemp Works recently opened a processing facility and intends to turn hemp into oil that can be used in a number of products, including salves and lip balms.

And that’s just a start, owner Katie Moyer said, who wants to show the world that hemp products are useful and practical.

“We need to develop those markets and show farmers and elected officials that there is a market for these things,” she told WKU Public Radio, which reported that Kentucky has 35 processors and 100 farmers and universities participating in a pilot program allowed under the farm bill.

Some farmers in the program, like Paul Glover, think hemp is the future of Kentucky farming.

But Glover said he also wants to be a part of something bigger, like helping children control their seizures with hemp-based medicine.

“It's really one of those things that when I saw this, I thought, ‘Well, I would like to be a part of that,’” Glover told Tristate Homepage.

The pilot program, which got underway this year, still faces challenges, like providing hemp seeds to participating farmers.

After so many years of prohibition, the U.S. seed stock was lost. It has been replenished, in part, by importing from places like Canada, which rakes in around a billion a year in hemp production, according to the LA Times.

During Herbert Hoover’s presidency, from 1929 to 1933, hemp was made illegal after having been America’s traditional crop for over 160 years.

But, why?

Hemp was too good for its own good. Hemp could be used to make clothes, cars, plastics, building materials, rope, paper, linens, food, medicine, fuel and so on. And this really bothered chemical companies like Dupont, Allied Chemical, Monsanto and others. So, with the help of the Hoover administration and the Hearst newspaper empire, they launched a campaign to have hemp declared to be a dangerous threat to their billion dollar enterprises.

They then proceeded to help destroy the environment by producing oil-based plastic and lumber-based paper, which could have easily been made from hemp.

Because hemp is part of the cannabis plant, these schemers began to call it “marihuana”—all the better to demonize it—even though it was never, ever regarded as a means for getting high. How could you, with only 0.3 percent THC?

Nevertheless, all these years later, that didn’t stop the government and DEA from taking a firm stance against it.

Finally, the extraordinary value of hemp, arguably one of the most useful plants known to mankind and one that provides an option for changing how things can be done on our planet, is being revived… We hope.

(Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia)

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