Forum teaches local farmers about hemp | Govt-and-politics – Beatrice Daily Sun


Forum teaches local farmers about hemp | Govt-and-politics - Beatrice Daily Sun

As Nebraska state legislators prepare to discuss LB 657, which would permit the growth and cultivation of industrial hemp in Nebraska, local organizations are providing education about the history, uses and regulations of hemp.

Farmers, teachers, past senators and community members gathered in the Clatonia Community Center last Friday to attend a forum led by the Great Plains Seed Company and Midwest Hemp Exchange.

They first discussed how hemp and marijuana are different. While they are taxonomically the same plant, hemp contains a much smaller amount of THC, the psychoactive chemical substance in marijuana.

“You just look at it and you can tell the difference,” Ismail Dweikat, a plant genetics professor at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln, said. “Hemp just grows straight up and has no smell or flavor, where if you’re next to a marijuana plant it smells like skunk.”

The Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 was signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and effectively banned the possession of marijuana. To obtain a tax stamp, users had to provide details about the amount and location of their marijuana, thereby incriminating themselves in the process.

Hemp also became illegal under the act.

“Even though hemp only has three tenths at most of a percent of THC,” said Colin Fury, a member of the Midwest Hemp Exchange, “You’d have to smoke a joint the size of a telephone pole to get high.”

In 2014, former president Barack Obama signed a farm bill that allowed industrial hemp research.

Research has found that achemical found in both marijuana and hemp known ascannabidiol, or CBD, has several medical uses.

According to Harvard Health Publishing, CBD can help with a variety of health issues, including reducing or eliminating seizures in epileptic patients, can treat different types of pain including arthritis, and can aid those affected by insomnia and anxiety.

In 2018, President Trump signed another farm bill that legalizes hemp and CBD on a federal level.

Fury explained that states are currently working with the federal USDA to launch regulations.

Kansas has already legalized hemp production. Kansans have until May 31st to send in an application in person, and until June 1 to mail it. There is a $1,000 license fee, $200 application fee and $47 Kansas Bureau of Investigation fingerprint-based criminal history record check fee.

“The fees are higher than a lot of other states, like Kentucky and ColoradoBut Kansas has got the ball rolling, and we’re hoping that they’re going to lower the fees in the upcoming session, after the USDA comes up with regulations,” Fury said.

Fury explained that due to soil conditions, each state will grow different varieties of hemp. However, federal guidelines state that all hemp strains must contain .3 percent THC or less to be legal for processing, harvesting and shipping.

The cost to grow hemp was also discussed. The price per hemp seed has an estimated cost of a dollar each, meaning an acre of hemp would cost upwards of $1,000.

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The investment may be lucrative, however, as an analysis done by Brightfield Group estimates that the CBD market alone could hit $22 billion by 2022.

The revenue of hemp is in part because several parts of the plant can be sold for different uses.

A 2013 Forbes article noted over 25,000 products made from hemp, with other sources saying that number is now over 50,000.

Alex Seyfert, a member of the Midwest Hemp Exchange, explained that there are five main parts of the plant that can be used.

Seyfert explained that hemp seeds can be used in food or in vehicles, and the fibers can be used in textiles.

“It’s also one of the strongest natural fibers known to man,” Seyfert said. “For an auto manufacturer, using these to press plastics to make their door panels. Audi, BMW, Mercedes all have that production of plastics that they’re using in their vehicles.”

Seyfert said that the hurd of the plant was used as a byproduct until recently, where it was identified as a potential material for adobe-style homes.

“You can mix it with lye and create walls with it,” Seyfert said. “These walls build homes that don’t need HVAC systems. Purifies the air, it’s fire resistant. The nice thing about this is you can reduce the use of lumber 30, 40 percent.”

Even the hemp’s roots have several uses.

According to projectcbd.org, the roots have compounds that have significant anti-inflammatory properties, and that hemp root preparations have been used to treat fever, infections, arthritis, gout and joint pain and as an aid to women during pregnancy.

“Or you can keep them in the ground,” Seyfert said. “The nice thing about the roots of hemp is they grow deep. Come fall, they’re going to decay from the inside out, allowing the ground to kind of aerate itself without having to do tilling or anything like that. It also absorbs heavy metals, it absorbs radiation, and it helps to purify the soil itself. So it’s been proven to be a good rotational crop.”

Seyfert did not mention the hemp leaves, which can also be used for medicine, as well as mulch or animal bedding.

Andrew Bish, COO of Bish Enterprises and the CEO of Hemp Harvesters, said he attended the forum to discuss harvesting and planting techniques farmers interested in growing hemp would need to be aware of, as well as giving information on the status of LB 657.

“My brother and I actually provided the language for LB 657, and we’ve been working to get the bill passed so that farmers can grow hempI think it’s important at this stage that Nebraskans definitely reach out to their local senators and make sure that they’re aware of their position on hemp, as well as the governor and the Department of Agriculture,” Bish said.

LB 657 was introduced by Senator Justin Wayne of Omaha in January, and is currently on the legislative calendar to be discussed sometime this week.


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