Category Archives: Industrial HEMP

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.

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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.

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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.”


    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.”


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





    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.



    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

    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 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/

    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.


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



    By Janet Patton

    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:

    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.


    ‘A grand experiment’, Tobacco farmer’s crop biggest in Ky.,

  • By Rebecca Walter, New Era Staff Writer
  • Updated Sep 10, 2015

    Hemp crop biggest in state

    Beside a humming industrial combine, Crofton farmer Kendal Clark gazed across his field, home to the largest hemp crop in Kentucky.

    During the harvesting process Tuesday, Clark said while the future is foggy, there is great potential for this year’s crop.

    “It’s been a learning experience, that’s for sure,” he said. “But it is showing some potential when it didn’t have the best chance in the world. It’s really turning around more than I would have imagined.”

    The crop, planted in mid-June, is a first for Clark, who is primarily a tobacco farmer. He said he’s already been contacted by several agencies, including the Epilepsy Foundation and various pharmaceutical chains, for potential uses for the crop.

    “The possibilities for this crop have barely been tapped,” he said.

    While this is the first year Clark has grown hemp, he is no stranger to the farming game. He has been harvesting most his life and full-time since 1977. Farming is embedded in his family’s roots, and his parents grew hemp during World War II under a federal contract.

    New beginnings

    Before planting, Clark had to obtain a permit, which he said was a lengthy process. Clark is working through the Kentucky Department of Agriculture Industrial Hemp Pilot Research Program, which stemmed from the passage of two separate laws — Senate Bill 50 passed in 2013 and the Farm Bill signed into law February 2014.

    Doris Hamilton, coordinator of the Industrial Hemp Pilot Research Program with the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, confirmed Clark’s hemp field is the largest in the state.

    Clark is among 99 people approved to plant hemp this year. Last year, the first year hemp production was legal in more than 50 years, that number was only 20.

    Hamilton said the approval process is selective and only about a third of applicants were approved this year. Individuals have to go through a background check and orientation before beginning production.

    She said the scale of hemp plots this year ranges from small greenhouses to the extent of Clark’s field. Clark’s main field is approximately 60 acres, and he has small additional fields bringing the total up to 100.

    Hamilton said yields varied across the state, with some “very successful” and others not so much.

    “The rain in July was detrimental to a lot of folks,” she said. The first six weeks are the most crucial, Hamilton added, and if there is too much rain and not enough sunlight, it can damage the crop.

    Hamilton expects crops across the state will be developed into several products, ranging from oil to Cannabidiol, used in various medical treatments.

    Last year, there were hemp crops in Pembroke and Dawson Springs. Katie Moyer, a local hemp advocate and partner in a new hemp-based company, Legacy Hemp, said the Dawson Springs crop didn’t survive, and the crop harvested in Pembroke is still bundled and waiting for its next move.

    Moyer said the next step for Clark’s crop is to put the seed in bins where it can dry. Then the seed cleaning process will begin.

    “We are in a good position to benefit big time from this crop,” she said.

    A historical crop

    Hemp was first grown in Kentucky in 1775, and the state became the leading producer in the nation. The peak production was in the mid-19th century, with 40,000 tons produced in 1850, according to the Kentucky Department of Agriculture.

    Production dropped off after the Civil War, and Kentucky became almost the exclusive producer of hemp.

    Federal legislation passed in 1938 outlawed the production of cannabis, including hemp. But production revved up again during World War II.

    Clark’s parents were contracted under the government to produce hemp during the war. The crop, like their son’s, was planted in north Christian County. It was used to make rope for the U.S. Navy.

    The crop has faced a certain stigma because it is a variety of cannabis sativa, which is of the same plant species as marijuana.

    But Clark said the crops are distinctly different, pointing out how easily the difference can be detected by looking at it. He has faced a few jokes around the community about growing hemp, but said the response has generally been positive.

    Looking to the future

    Clark said he plans on planting hemp again next year, taking what he has learned this season and carrying that knowledge into next year’s crop.

    “It hasn’t been easy, but we’ve been learning,” he said. “It has intrigued us enough and really hasn’t had a fair chance this year with the weather. We just want to give it the best shot we can.”

    The exact economic impact is still unclear, and it may be months before an answer is known.

    “This is a grand experiment,” Clark said. “But you have to start somewhere.”

    Hemp facts

    – The first hemp crop in Kentucky was grown in 1775.

    – An estimated 55,700 metric tons of industrial hemp are produced around the world each year.

    – China, Russia and South Korea are the leading hemp-producing nations and account for 70 percent of the world’s industrial hemp supply.

    – More than 30 nations grow industrial hemp as an agricultural commodity.

    – Current industry estimates report U.S. retail sales of all hemp-based products may exceed $300 million per year.

    – It is illegal to grow hemp without a permit from the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency).

    — Information from the Kentucky Department of Agriculture’s website

    Reach Rebecca Walter at 270-887-3241 or


    County’s 1st hemp seeds of 2015 planted

    More, bigger plots coming, advocate says

    • By Eli Pace, New Era editor




    If last year’s industrial hemp planting was a trial run, this year Christian County hemp farmers are going all out with what’s expected to be 85 total acres of the crop spread across four local pilot projects.

    The first pilot went into the ground Friday at Jeff Davis’ Pembroke farm, said Katie Moyer, a local hemp advocate who’s been heavily involved in the push to legalize the crop, which can be used to make everything from paper to plastics.

    “It was actually done in record time,” Moyer said of Davis’ second hemp planting. “He got the seed Friday and planted Friday evening.”

    Winner of the chamber’s 2015 Famer of the Year award, Davis planted a half-acre of hemp last year on his 1,300-acre farm. This time, according to Moyer, he put down about five acres’ worth of seeds on a different strip of land.

    That’s a small chunk of the roughly 85 acres that’s expected to be planted across the four local pilots, but depending on how far the seed goes, Moyer said, the actual acreage could be a little more or a little less.

    Compared to the two half-acre pilots planted last year in Christian County, that’s quite the step up.

    “Yeah, big time,” Moyer said.

    If everything goes according to plan, seed for the largest of the Christian County hemp pilots could be planted as early as Tuesday. When the seeds sprout, the crop should be visible from the Pennyrile Parkway at the Crofton interchange.

    “This one is going to be very big and very visible,” Moyer said, adding that, because of media coverage and increased hemp awareness, more and more Kentucky farmers are showing interest in the crop.

    “People really had an opportunity to see what was going on (last year). It’s like a snowball effect. We’re definitely a lot busier now than we were last year.”

    In line with that growth, Moyer and a handful of individuals have formed a new company called “Legacy Hemp.”

    Reached over the phone Monday, Moyer said she was working on filing the necessary paperwork with the Kentucky Secretary of State for what is to be a certified seed breeder that’s being created to sell hemp seed to Kentucky farmers and facilitate some of the processing that’s involved with taking the crop to market. A company website is in the works.

    “Because everything is so new, we’re really feeling things out,” she said.

    Moyer explained that, more than anything, she hopes people realize industrial hemp is not marijuana.

    The two are related plant species, but hemp contains only trace amounts of THC, the chemical that can register as high as 30 percent or more in marijuana and produces intoxicating effects in humans.

    Because of the high visibility of this year’s crops, Moyer also said she hopes any would-be pot users don’t make the mistake of thinking hemp is an illicit crop, try to smoke it or steal any of the hemp plants to sell for a profit.

    Reach Eli Pace at 270-887-3235 or