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The U.S. Hemp Revolution

By: Gazette Staff

The Hemp Farming Act of 2018 has released industrial hemp from the Controlled Substance Act’s definition of marijuana. In a political environment where we see most issues are divided straight down the aisle, it is rare to see a bill with this much support from both parties. So what is industrial hemp, and why is there now so much widespread support of the crop?

While hemp is a relative of the Cannabis family, it is not to be confused with marijuana. Contrary to popular belief, hemp can’t actually get you high. It contains about less than 0.3 percent THC, which is significantly less than that contained in marijuana. Because of current U.S. laws, at least up until now, the majority of industrial hemp has been grown exclusively outside of the U.S.

The Hemp Farming Act 2018 allows for further commercialization of industrial hemp nationwide with the ultimate goal of treating hemp such as soybeans, corn or wheat. The treatment of hemp as an agricultural commodity ensures widespread, mainstream access to the many hemp-derived products from our local farms.

It takes years for trees to grow until they can be harvested for paper or wood, but hemp is ready to harvest just 120 days after it has been planted. Hemp can grow on most lands suitable for farming, while forests and tree farms require large tracts of land available in few locations. Harvesting hemp rather than trees would also eliminate erosion due to logging, thereby reducing topsoil loss and water pollution caused by soil runoff.

Beyond its ease of growth, hemp can be used in a wide variety of ways and the demand for it is rising, from beauty products, to construction materials and textiles. Hemp is also a sustainable material that can be used in replacement of a number of environmentally harmful products, such as plastics.

In addition to its qualities as a superfood, hemp can be cultivated for its cannabidiol (or CBD). Increasingly, research shows the beneficial properties of CBD include being antiemetic, anticonvulsant, antipsychotic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-tumoral/anti-cancer, and anti-depressant. For example, cannabidiol has helped thousands of families treat children with epilepsy
and other causes of seizures. The demand for medical-grade cannabidiol has spurred breeders and growers to pursue new strain genetics that promote cannabidiol production. These strains don’t attempt to eliminate THC. Instead, they increase the ratio of CBD to THC, allowing the effects of cannabidiol to shine through.

In addition, it will allow for more responsible production of this product, which has been grown primarily outside of the United States in much less controlled and sanitary conditions than our farmers are known to follow.

“Removing industrial hemp from the Controlled Substances Act is a commonsense move, which would create jobs and get the government out of the way of Colorado’s farmers and agricultural industry,” Colorado State Senator Gardner said in a statement. “Hemp has the potential to be a major boon to Colorado agriculture, giving farmers another viable and profitable option for their fields.”