Category Archives: Industrial HEMP

Legislation to legalize recreational and medicinal marijuana is unlikely to be addressed during this legislative session in Kentucky


 

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Legislation to legalize recreational and medicinal marijuana is unlikely to be addressed during this legislative session in Kentucky.

That’s according to the committee’s chairman who’s handling the proposal. So what about the state’s hemp pilot program?

Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles was in Owensboro Wednesday. He says he expects 200 farmers to plant more than 4,000 acres this year.

That’s 4 times as much as in 2015.
Former Agriculture Commissioner James Comer started the program last year.  Quarles says officials are encouraging more local companies to use hemp grown in the Commonwealth –

"There are car manufacturers in Kentucky who use plant products similar to industrial hemp, but we’re hoping to pitch them on the idea of using Kentucky grown industrial hemp, not just for the manufacturing industry, but also other manufacturers across the state as well."

More than 100 farmers participated last year and twice as many are expected this year.  Kentucky is one of several states with a hemp pilot program.

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Virginia House Passes Bill to Authorize Hemp Farming, 98-0


RICHMOND, Va. (Jan. 26, 2016) – Today, the Virginia House of Delegates passed a bill to authorize the farming, and production of industrial hemp in the state for commercial purposes, setting the foundation for further action. The vote was 98-0.

Introduced by Del. Brenda Pogge (R-Norge), House Bill 699 (HB699) would amend current state law on hemp and create a framework so that hemp businesses/processors and hemp farmers can proceed with business plans.

As noted in the impact statement from the Department of Planning and Budget, the bill would also require the Board of Agriculture and Consumer Services to “adopt regulations as necessary to license persons to grow and process industrial hemp for any purpose.” [emphasis added]

Under the Code of Virginia, § 3.2-4113 – as passed into law in 2015 – authorizes the state to issue licenses to farm and produce hemp for research purposes only under the Federal Farm Bill of 2014. If passed into law, HB699 would broaden the scope of hemp in the state to include the commercial “manufacture of industrial hemp products.” The bill would require creation of a  licensure and renewal, including the establishment of any fees not to exceed $250, to allow a person to grow industrial hemp in the Commonwealth for any lawful purpose.

If passed, the new law would read, in part:

No person licensed pursuant to § 3.2-4115 or 3.2-4117 shall be prosecuted under § 18.2-247, 18.2-248, 18.2-248.01, 18.2-248.1, 18.2-250, or18.2-250.1 for the possession, cultivation or manufacture of industrial hemp plant material and seeds or industrial hemp products.

HB699 would take a first step toward establishing an independent hemp policy in Virginia and would create a foundation for future action.

Virginia Industrial Hemp Coalition founder and executive director Jason Amatucci called it a historic bill.

“This will make Virginia one of the leaders in being ‘Open for Hemp Business’ very soon. It will take 3-5 years to get the hemp industry really up and going and this is yet another great step.”

FEDERAL FARM BILL

Early in 2014, President Barack Obama signed a new farm bill into law, which included a provision allowing a handful of states to begin limited research programs growing hemp. The “hemp amendment”

…allows State Agriculture Departments, colleges and universities to grow hemp, defined as the non-drug oil-seed and fiber varieties of Cannabis, for academic or agricultural research purposes, but it applies only to states where industrial hemp farming is already legal under state law.

Current federal law authorizes the farming of hemp – by research institutions only, for research only. Farming for commercial purposes by individuals and businesses remains prohibited. HB699 sets a stage that could eventually lead development of a hemp industry despite federal prohibition.

OTHER STATES

Passage of HB699 would take a small set toward setting the stage to nullify the federal hemp ban in practice. Virginia would join with other states – including Colorado, Oregon, South Carolina, Connecticut, Maine, North Dakota and Vermont – that have simply ignored federal prohibition and legalized industrial hemp production within their state borders.

Farmers in SE Colorado started harvesting the plant in 2013, and farmers in Vermont began harvesting in 2014, effectively nullifying federal restrictions on such agricultural activities. On Feb. 2 of last year, the Oregon hemp industry officially opened for business and one week later, the first license went to a small non-profit group. As more people engage in hemp production and the market grows within these states, more people will become emboldened creating an exponential wave, ultimately nullifying the federal ban in effect.

HUGE MARKET FOR HEMP

According to a 2005 Congressional Research Service report, the U.S. is the only developed nation that hasn’t developed an industrial hemp crop for economic purposes.

Experts suggest that the U.S. market for hemp is around $600 million per year. They count as many as 25,000 uses for industrial hemp, including food, cosmetics, plastics and bio-fuel. The U.S. is currently the world’s #1 importer of hemp fiber for various products, with China and Canada acting as the top two exporters in the world.

During World War II, the United States military relied heavily on hemp products, which resulted in the famous campaign and government-produced film, “Hemp for Victory!”.

HB699 represents an essential first step toward hemp freedom in the state of Virginia.

WHAT’S NEXT

HB699 now moves to the Senate, where it will first be assigned to a committee for further consideration.

If you live in Virginia: For action steps to help get this bill passed click HERE.

For other states: Take action to push back against hemp prohibition HERE.

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The United States is currently the only industrialized nation where hemp production is illegal


Legalizing Weed: 4 Facts About the Industrial Hemp Farming Act

By Andrea Miller   |   Tuesday, 17 Nov 2015 05:53 PM

Though it’s often confused with the movement for legalizing weed, the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2015 is actually a separate movement specifically for cannabis sativa plants cultivated for development and production of hemp products. The bill seeks to amend the definition of marijuana in the Controlled Substances Act so that it will not include industrial hemp.
Here are four facts about the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2015.

Urgent: Should Marijuana Be Legalized in All States?

1. The bill has a long history.
While it was reintroduced in 2015, the Industrial Hemp Farming Act has gone through several iterations. It was first introduced in 2005 by Ron Paul, Pete Stark, Jim McDermott, and Raul Grijalva, but stalled after it was referred to the Subcommittee on Health.
With some changes, the bill was introduced again in both 2007 and 2009, both times failing to get past this committee despite changes in the bill that seek to separate legalizing weed from legalizing industrial hemp. A 2013 version stalled with the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations.
2. The bill has bipartisan support.
Unlike legalizing weed, which has traditionally been a Democrat-supported movement, both Republicans and Democrats have shown support for the new version of the Industrial Hemp Farming Act. This is a nod to the economic impact that cultivation of industrial hemp could have on the nation’s agricultural landscape and on manufacturing. Sponsors of the bill include Reps. Jared Polis (D-Colorado), Thomas Massie (R-Kentucky), Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon), Kurt Schrader (D-Oregon), and Dana Rohrabacher (R-California)
3. The United States is currently the only industrialized nation where hemp production is illegal.
However, the U.S. is also the world’s largest consumer of hemp-related products. This means that a bill allowing cultivation of industrial hemp would bolster domestic trade and allow access to more affordable and fresher industrial hemp for manufacturing purposes.

Vote Now: How Do You Feel About Marijuana Legalization?

4. Twenty states have already legalized industrial hemp production.
However, farmers who grow the crop in those states still risk targeting by federal authorities unless the Industrial Hemp Act is passed. In an earlier win for industrial hemp production, President Barack Obama signed a bill in early 2014 allowing colleges and universities to grow the crop for research purposes in these 20 states.
With legalizing weed a reality in 20 states and Washington, D.C., this new reintroduction of the Industrial Hemp Farming Act has a real chance at becoming law for the first time since its inception.

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Stars, Stripes, and Hemp Fly over Capitol


  • By Tim Marema
  • November 11, 2015
  • Photo by Donnie Hedden 2015

    A plant the federal law says is a Schedule I controlled substance was used to make the U.S. flag that will fly over the Capitol on Veterans Day. Industrial hemp could be a boon for small farmers, say proponents, including the U.S. veteran who grew the hemp used to make the flag.

    An American flag made of industrial hemp grown in Kentucky by U.S. military veterans will be flown over the U.S. Capitol for the first time on Veterans Day, according to a press release from organizers of the event.

    The event is in support of federal legislation that would restore the industrial hemp industry in America.

    The 2014 farm bill granted states limited permission to allow cultivation of industrial hemp for agricultural research or pilot projects. Kentucky Senator and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was among the legislators who supported the measure.

    “Hemp was a crop that built our nation,” said Mike Lewis, a U.S. veteran and Kentucky hemp farmer who directs the Growing Warriors Project. The project grew the hemp used to make the flag.

    “Betsy Ross’ first American flag was made of hemp. We have flags made in China now. That’s almost sacrilegious,” Lewis said. He served in the “Commander in Chiefs Guard” of the 3rd U.S. Infantry from 1992 to 1995.

    Twenty-seven U.S. states have enacted or are considering laws to allow industrial hemp cultivation or are petitioning the federal government to declassify industrial hemp as a drug.  The proposed federal legislation would remove industrial hemp from the controlled substance list.

    Joe Schroeder with Freedom of Seed and Feed said industrial hemp could be a big help to America’s small farmers.  “If a hemp industry is to thrive in America again and provide the stability for so many communities that tobacco once did, it has to start with the stability of the small farmer,” Schroeder said.

    Hemp advocates say the fibrous plant can be used as raw material in clothing, carpet, beauty products, paper, and even as building material, insulation, and clutch linings.

    About 30 countries allow cultivation of industrial hemp, according to a 2015 Congressional Research Service report. These nations produced about 380 million tons of hemp in 2011. The U.S. imported $37 million in hemp products in 2014, according to the report.

    Al Jazeera America reports that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s last record of a hemp crop was in the 1950s. The plant was grown to make rope during World War II. Its production peaked in 1943 when 150 million pounds were harvested from 146,200 acres.

    Hemp is related to the plant that produces marijuana but contains negligible amounts of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. Political observers say the effort to change U.S. law on hemp is part of a larger rethinking of cannabis laws.

    An opponent of marijuana legalization told Al Jazeera last year he doubted that a change in the U.S. industrial hemp laws would have much impact on the marijuana debate.

    “On the one hand, I think it’s part of a larger agenda to normalize marijuana by a few,” said Kevin Sabet, director of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, a national alliance that opposes pot legalization. “On the other hand, will it have any difference at the end of the day? I would be highly skeptical of that.”

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    Kentucky Farmers Ready for Growth of Hemp Industry


    By Janet Patton | November 4, 2015

    Tucked away off a narrow country road in Clark County, Kentucky, in the middle of a farm, 27 acres of hemp grew all summer. Now, the plants will be harvested and processed.

    Kentucky, hailed as a leader by industrial hemp advocates, has grown the hemp. Now the state is working on growing the industry.

    “In two years, we’ve come a long way,” said Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, who is now running for Congress. “We’ve proven first of all that it’s not a drug, which was very important for the opposition to realize. And we’ve proven it’s economically viable, or there wouldn’t be 22 companies that have made an investment in the state. … What we’re doing now is working with the companies that want to go to the next step to commercialize the product. “

    The plants in Winchester are part of the 100 acres of hemp – high in cannabidiol and low in tetrahydrocannabinol (the high-inducing chemical in marijuana) – grown this year for GenCanna, which moved from Canada to Kentucky to be in the heart of the hemp revolution. It deliberately chose to come to Kentucky over other states, including Colorado, because of the agricultural resources and the climate, both meteorological and political.

    “We have been in this industry for many years, and we are setting a new bar in Kentucky,” GenCanna CEO Matty Mangone- Miranda said. “Kentucky’s kept the focus on industrial hemp” rather than cloud the issue with other forms of cannabis cultivation, as Colorado has permitted.

    Mangone-Miranda, who estimates that hemp could become a billion-dollar industry, said his group is in hemp for the long run.

    “The industry is likely to have a bubble, then stabilize with a market of diversified products,” he said, citing potential uses in sports drinks, nutritional products, supplements and more.

    GenCanna has invested more than $5 million in Kentucky, according to company officials, although it has yet to see any revenue. That will come once the company is able to deliver a stable source of low-THC/high-CBD hemp.

    “The only way to have hemp become an agricultural commodity is to grow lots of it and see what happens,” said Steve Bean, GenCanna’s chief operating officer.

    Coming to Kentucky had other benefits, too. Many farmers were eager to get into the crop, which decades ago proliferated in the Bluegrass; hundreds applied to be part of pilot projects to grow hemp. The crop still can legally be grown only in affiliation with the state Department of Agriculture and entities that sign detailed memos of understanding.

    Kentucky also has resources that in the past were used for tobacco that have converted well to hemp cultivation.

    In fact, GenCanna’s headquarters is now in part of a former Philip Morris office building stuffed with former labs. The place was practically abandoned as the cigarette maker began retreating from Central Kentucky.

    And next door is a processing center in a former tobacco seed plant, where GenCanna built a system to turn the chopped-up hemp plants into a sort of dried powder to sell as a nutritional supplement.

    The Shell Farm and Greenhouses in Lancaster is turning its fields away from tobacco, growing 157,000 hemp plants on 40 acres outdoors and 3,500 plants in a greenhouse.

    “And we’ll be growing it indoors all winter,” Giles Shell said. Shell’s greenhouses once raised flowers; now he’s working on hemp genetics.

    “There’s no seed crop, so we have to take cuttings to get the plants in the field. So I’m selecting genetics, for a hardier plant – bigger, fuller,” Shell said. “We’ve got a problem with variegation or chimera, so I trying to select away from it.”

    Next year, Shell intends to grow even more hemp.

    “We’re going to quit raising our tobacco crop, and if we do any flowers, it will be downsized,” Shell said. “Last year, we raised 120 acres of tobacco. This year, we dropped to 80. Next year, we will drop to none. There’s not a market any more for tobacco and not enough money once you factor in labor and chemical costs.”

    Both the offices and the processing center are shared with Atalo Holdings, another hemp entrepreneur company, this one formed by Andy Graves and other Kentuckians working on crushing hemp seed for oil and other fiber production. Graves also grew the 27 acres of hemp for GenCanna.

    Other groups, including the Stanley Brothers of Charlotte’s Web CBD oil fame, also are pursuing the hemp’s potential.

    Kentucky could be on the cusp of a green revolution – a hemp boom that could go in myriad directions or spiral into a bubble of speculation.

    “It could,” Comer acknowledged. But, assuming that sometime in the next two years, Congress makes it legal for anyone to grow hemp, he said Kentucky should be well-positioned, with a jump-start on the infrastructure.

    “We get requests every day for companies that want to start processing hemp. I worry that some may not have the credibility of some of the others, and that’s why it’s taking longer to certify, to get more background info,” Comer said. “We’re not picking winners and losers, but those that have credibility. Our reputations are on the line here, too.”

    GenCanna has more contracts with farmers than any other company at this point, Comer said. It’s the only one in the cannabidiol business with signed contracts with national chains to buy their hemp product, he said.

    “GenCanna is the real deal,” he said. “And they’ve given me assurances everyone will be paid, and all the farmers are happy.”

    The Shell family, which has a three-year contract with GenCanna, certainly is now.

    “We were very leery – I was the most reserved in my family of starting to do this,” Giles Shell said. “But … I felt like we were the best route to help commercialize this crop. Demand is really high, and supply isn’t there. Basic economics will tell you that’s profit.

    “We’ve got a year ahead of everybody else that’s going to get into the game.”

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    LISTEN: Newsweek Writer Discusses Kentucky’s ‘Great Hemp Experiment’


     

    HempField-KYHIA-copy

     

     

    Originally published on October 14, 2015 6:09 am

    Newsweek reporter Jessica Firger recently wrote a story in which she described the challenges for Kentucky farmers growing the plant.

    On Tuesday, Firger discussed with Kentucky Public Radio how the state’s fledgling hemp industry is providing an alternative for down-and-out tobacco farmers in the state.

    In “The Great Kentucky Hemp Experiment,” Firger writes that hemp is just a few genetic tweaks away from marijuana and also smells like its illicit cousin when it flowers.

    During her reporting at a hemp farm near Lexington, farmers turned to hemp after struggling to grow and sell tobacco and ornamental flowers, Firger said.

    “A lot of farmers in the state and lawmakers are really hopeful that growing hemp is really going to change things,” she told Kentucky Public Radio.

    Kentucky is one of several states that has enacted a hemp pilot program that allows a limited number of acres to be cultivated for industrial hemp.

    Bringing hemp to Kentucky has been a pet project of Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, who has gotten support from U.S. Sens. Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul, among others.

    Listen

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    2016 Industrial Hemp Project Applications Sought


    Farmers, processors, universities, and others interested in conducting an industrial hemp pilot project in 2016, are invited to apply,

    Applicants must complete an application and submit it to the Kentucky Department of Agriculture no later than Nov. 5, 2015.

    FRANKFORT, Ky. (WBKO) Farmers, processors, universities, and others interested in conducting an industrial hemp pilot project in 2016, are invited to apply, Agriculture Commissioner James Comer has announced.

    “The industrial hemp pilot projects have yielded valuable information the past two years,” Commissioner Comer said. “We look forward to another successful round of projects and encourage applicants to submit proposals to research hemp production, processing, manufacturing, and marketing. This work will help establish Kentucky as the epicenter of America’s industrial hemp industry once the remaining legal barriers to hemp production are removed.”

    Kentucky Proud Hemp Logo

    Applicants must complete an application and submit it to the Kentucky Department of Agriculture no later than Nov. 5, 2015. Applications and instructions are available on the KDA’s website at www.kyagr.com/hemp.

    The department received 326 applications and approved 121 in 2015.

    This year’s planting intentions totaled more than 1,700 acres, of which more than 922 acres were planted. In 2014, the first year of industrial hemp pilot projects, projects totaled just over 30 acres.

    The 2014 federal farm bill permits industrial hemp pilot programs in states where hemp production is permitted by state law. Legislation passed in the 2013 Kentucky General Assembly established a regulatory framework for industrial hemp production in Kentucky. Commissioner Comer led a bipartisan effort in support of the legislation, known as Senate Bill 50.

    For more information, contact the Kentucky Department of Agriculture’s Industrial Hemp Program at (502) 573-0282, Option 1, or hemp@ky.gov.

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    Hemp harvest begins


    Kentucky State researchers begin to bring in school’s 1st crop

    By Brent Schanding, Published: September 25, 2015 8:20AM

    Sheri Crabtree carries a bundle of cut hemp plants at the Kentucky State University Reasearch Farm. (Bobby Ellis/bellis@state-journal.com)

    Kentucky State University researchers on Wednesday began harvesting the school’s first hemp crop at the Harold R. Benson Research and Demonstration Farm on Mills Lane off U.S. 127 South.

    They spent about four hours in the field cutting stalks before hauling them to a greenhouse to cure.

    “This is a new crop for Kentucky so part of this research is to help give farmers an idea as to how they can use it,” said Chelsea Jacobson, a research coordinator for Nicholasville-based agri-giant Alltech that’s been partnering with KSU on its efforts to revive the once prominent cash crop. 

    Dr. Kirk Pomper — associate research director and professor of horticulture at KSU who is co-leading the university’s research efforts — says he’s interested in converting the hemp to fiber and cloth. It’s a market that has a growing potential in Kentucky since hemp was legally reintroduced here in 2014. 

    In June, researchers with the College of Agriculture, Food Science, and Sustainable Systems along with a technical agronomist from Alltech took soil samples and treated and prepared a test plot before sowing several small parcels with hemp seeds at KSU’s farm.

    “We’ve got two different products here so we’re looking for differences between them. Difference in height, seed count and oil content,” Pomper said. “We’re looking at the effect of the influence of soil enzymes on the two products.” 

    Hemp revival
    Hemp was first planted in Kentucky in 1775 when the state served as leader in the U.S. hemp industry. It flourished for generations before largely disappearing by the late 1940s when federal lawmakers restricted its production with the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937. The Controlled Substance Act of 1970 made hemp a controlled substance under federal law, with production regulated by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

    However, Kentucky lawmakers in 2014 approved legislation to permit industrial hemp production in the state. In February of 2014 Kentucky announced five pilot hemp projects across the state and several farmers have since revived the crops in fields across the Bluegrass.

    While hemp and its cousin marijuana are both derived from the same cannabis plant, industrial hemp production relies on the commercial use of the plant’s stalk and seeds to produce textiles, paper, plastics and body care products among other things.

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    "Welcome to Kentucky, the leading industrial hemp-producing state"


     

     

    By Janet Patton

    jpatton1@herald-leader.com

    September 28, 2015

    Hemp has come a long way, increasing from 33 acres in 2014 — the first legal crop in Kentucky — to more than 922 acres planted this year.

    "Welcome to Kentucky, the leading industrial hemp-producing state in the country. It feels good to say that," Agriculture Commissioner James Comer told a sold-out crowd Monday at the annual Hemp Industries Association Conference in Lexington.

    This was the first time in 22 years that the conference of hemp entrepreneurs and activists has been held in a hemp-producing state, said Eric Steenstra, executive director of the Hemp Industries Association.

    Among the crowd of 200 were attendees from as far away as Hawaii, Alaska and Australia, including people well known in the fight to legalize industrial hemp and separate it from more controversial marijuana. The notables included Hawaii state Rep. Cynthia Thielen, who fought to establish one of the first DEA-regulated test plots years ago, and David Bronner, whose multinational soap company has contributed $10,000 to grants for Kentucky farmers to transition to organic hemp.

    Comer, the conference’s keynote speaker, was greeted with a standing ovation for his efforts to bring industrial hemp back to Kentucky after decades of federal banishment.

    "We wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for his efforts," said Andy Graves, CEO of Atalo Holdings, a Central Kentucky group that has organized growers and processors.

    Kentucky has more than 121 growers working with seven universities around the state on research into growing, processing and marketing hemp into everything from oil, food and fiber to energy, manufacturing, textiles, automotive composites, construction materials and paper, Comer said.

    Most importantly, Kentucky has attracted more than 20 processors, who will be key to taking the crop into profitable markets.

    Comer predicted that in coming years, Kentucky will go from less than 1,000 acres to thousands, and from 24 processors to hundreds.

    "We’re going to be the epicenter of industrial hemp in this country," Comer said.

    The next battle, he said, will be with the Food and Drug Administration. He plans to lobby to keep cannabis oil products regulated as supplements rather than as medications.

    Comer plans to work on the FDA until December, when he will leave office for the private sector, he said. He has no plans "at this time" to run for political office again, he said.

    Kentucky’s hemp program will be in the hands of a new agriculture commissioner; candidates Jean-Marie Lawson Spann, a Democrat, and Ryan Quarles, a Republican, are scheduled to meet with hemp conference attendees on Tuesday.

    Both candidates have indicated that they support continuing the state’s hemp program, which Steenstra said will be crucial because it isn’t clear that the pilot program could continue without the state’s involvement in coordinating farmers with researchers through legal memoranda of understanding.

    Federal efforts to legalize full-scale industrial hemp production continue, Steenstra said.

    "Groups like HIA and Vote Hemp will be more important than ever, because now we have something to lose," Steenstra said.

    Janet Patton: (859) 231-3264. Twitter: @janetpattonhl.

    Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/2015/09/28/4060820/comer-predicts-kentucky-will-be.html#storylink=cpy

    What happened to the hemp crop in kentucky? (It took a trip!)


    Low hemp harvest yield expected

    Story by Lauren Epperson, Contributing writer

    Emily Harris/The News Tony Brannon, dean of the Hutson School of Agriculture, said problems with this years seeds could lead to a low yielding harvest.Emily Harris/The News
    Tony Brannon, dean of the Hutson School of Agriculture, said problems with this years seeds could lead to a low yielding harvest.

    By late May, Murray State agriculture students still were awaiting the arrival of the key ingredient to their summer hemp-growing program: the seeds.

    Getting them to Murray took two more months, attempted shipments from two countries, a pair of bureaucratic paperwork snafus and two of the largest delivery companies in the world.

    “There were significant problems with this year’s seeds,” said Tony Brannon, dean of the Hutson School of Agriculture.

    As a result, this fall’s hemp harvest – the second since the federal government allowed Kentucky universities to grow the crop – won’t be a big one, Brannon said.

    “We will probably harvest the full two acres,” he said. “It will not be high yielding, but we will try to harvest all of it.”

    Murray State’s agriculture students harvested their first crop last year in late October. But Brannon said college officials haven’t decided when that will be this fall or what they will do with the crop once it’s harvested.

    Just getting it to Murray was a logistical miracle.

    Sixty tons of seeds left Germany and arrived in Chicago without a key piece of customs paperwork. The seed company, which forgot the seeds’ certification form, paid to ship the 60 tons back to Germany.

    Plan B was to receive a different shipment from Canada. FedEx picked up those seeds and brought them to Louisville only to realize FedEx policies prevented them from delivering any hemp seeds, Brannon said.

    That hemp went back to Canada, only to be picked up by UPS and returned to Louisville. Upon arrival, U.S. Customs agents seized them and placed them under embargo at the UPS processing and packaging center for another two weeks before the seeds finally reached Murray State.

    Murray State’s Department of Agriculture partnered with the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, U.S. Hemp Oil and CannaVest this summer to raise and conduct research on hemp for the second time. Murray State became the first university to plant a legal industrial hemp crop in the nation in the spring of 2014.

    “It’s been an exciting project,” Brannon said. “Our mission is to provide opportunities for regional agriculture, and if it’s an opportunity for regional agriculture, we want to be a part of it.”

    Kentucky was the leading hemp-producing state in the United States until it was outlawed by federal legislation in 1938.

    The National Council of State Legislatures has stated that the federal government classifies hemp as an illegal drug under the Controlled Substances Act because it contains trace amounts of the same hallucinogen found in marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol (or THC).

    Hemp production was legalized for research purposes at registered state universities when the Agricultural Act of 2014 was signed into law in February, 2014.

    Although Murray State was the first university to plant hemp for research, it is not the only university. The University of Louisville, the University of Kentucky and Eastern Kentucky University also have conducted pilot programs concerning hemp.

    “I think it’s really cool that we’re one of the only universities in the state that is allowed to conduct this type of research and I hope that we are able to continue in the future with this agricultural pursuit,” said Sarah Luckett, sophomore from Beechmont, Kentucky.

    Murray State’s most recent crop, planted July 12, has reached an average height of three to four feet. Murray State’s Department of Agriculture has not yet set a date to harvest the crop or decided how that process will be conducted.

    Adam Watson, industrial hemp program coordinator for the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, said that he expects the pilot programs to continue and further research to be conducted.

    “I think it’s good that our school is able to conduct relevant, respectable and legal research about this issue,” said Chris Albers, junior from Breese, Illinois.

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