Many U.S. states are warming up to the decision of cultivating the nonintoxicating cousin of marijuana. North Carolina has decided to conduct a statewide test and is now encouraging farmers to grow hemp. This year, a field where corn once grew could produce a new crop.
Today, many countries around the globe grow hemp for industrial purposes. Most of Europe, Canada, and other states have already recognized the beneficial properties of the plant. It is used to make cloth, oils, and many other useful products that open new markets for farmers. While conventional crops are not always cheap, hemp is a good alternative.
The director of the Research Station for the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Resources in North Carolina, Sandy Stewart, admits that the interest in growing hemp is tremendous. Many American farmers had lobbied for the opportunity to grow this profitable crop. Finally, in 2014, the Congress allowed test projects for hemp farming. North Carolina and Virginia already have approved the experimental programs.
Initially, back in the 1930s, hemp cultivation was forbidden alongside marijuana because they are in the same genus. However, this plant is different from the psychoactive marijuana we use to get high. It contains only 0.3 percent of THC, which is the main compound responsible for the euphoria. The average potency of marijuana is 10 percent of THC. The amount that is contained in hemp is not enough to have a narcotic effect. That is why this plant cannot be used as a recreational drug.
Instead, the plant was known thousands of years ago as a mean to create cloth, paper, ropes, etc. It is also an interesting fact that the Declaration of Independence was written on hemp paper. Besides, the first jeans of the famous Levi's brand were made of hemp sailcloth. Even American presidents allegedly grew hemp on their fields.
Today, the plant can be used to make materials for car interiors among other things, for example, door panels or head liners. These goods will be produced by Volvo Truck North America. Many other companies and farmers are interested in this crop as well. To start the cultivation, they have to apply for a license from the Industrial Hemp Commission. To regulate the process, special agriculture agents will monitor the fields and make sure that the crops do not contain THC. In addition, the state will regulate every acre by tracking precise locations using the GPS technology.
David Schmitt, who has experience in growing the hemp cousin kenaf, is a chief operating officer at Industrial Hemp Manufacturing LLC. He mentions that the same equipment that his company uses to work with kenaf can also be applied to hemp.
Farmers will closely collaborate with the state agents. Considering that this field is new to them, they will determine its value, properties, and the best growing conditions together.
Many states are still working on ways to use the plant safely and beneficially. It can be made into many materials. Besides, they are all recyclable. Hemp is a plant that can open many doors for farmers and the country in general.