Kentucky Begins Growing Industrial Hemp

DEA - Hemp is not marijuana

Industrial hemp makes for very durable fabricAfter the recent debacle where DEA agents seized a shipment of hemp seeds bound for Kentucky, there has been a lot of hemp news coming out of the area. Last Tuesday the University of Kentucky officially started growing industrial hemp on one of their test plots in order to research and determine the potential of the extremely versatile plant. In addition, another test plot has begun to grow industrial hemp in Western Kentucky. This plot is affiliated with Murray State University. Throughout the state, about 13 hemp plots are expected to be planted within just days, most of them expected to use hemp seeds from other sources. Kentucky Agricultural Commissioner James Comer said these plots will “help us recover much of the knowledge about industrial hemp product that has been lost since hemp was last grown in Kentucky.” He also stated that the research “will bring industrial hemp back to Kentucky, and with it, new jobs and new farm income.”

Kentucky has been fighting to pass the bill to legally grow industrial hemp for research, in fact, they have been on the front lines of this battle as many other states are closely watching things unfold. More states in the US are also jumping into the fight, passing bills which actually make it legal to grow on designated plots, with government issued permits. Hemp used to thrive in Kentucky before being banned in 1970, and of course, was used in a plethora of applications which generated a healthy income for the state. There are a lot of people who believe that industrial hemp in Kentucky could flourish once again; creating jobs, valuable resources, and bringing a significant amount of income into the state, hemp could indeed be a valued crop.

Industrial hemp can be used for paper, plastic, rope, food, cosmetics, and even fuel (just to name a few), so why wouldn’t it generate a ton of money for any state willing to grow it? On Tuesday, In Rockcastle County, there’s a group hoping to plant two acres of hemp for another research project. Michael Lewis, an industrial hemp farmer leading the project, said that the plan is to convert part of the crop into fabric to make US flags. The industrial hemp will also be used to make textiles, he said. He also mentioned that we shouldn’t expect a bustling hemp industry by next year. These sorts of things take time, but “certainly, the potential is exciting”.

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