Research on Industrial Hemp - Stevens County Times

Ever since the 2014 Farm Bill authorized industrial hemp research, there has been more interest in growing hemp as an agricultural product for either seed production or fibers such as textiles, paper, and cordage. In Canada, industrial hemp was legalized in 1998, and 80,000 acres are currently grown there.

It is important to distinguish the difference between industrial hemp and cannabis used for medicinal or narcotic purposes; the two actually come from different breeds of cannabis. Industrial hemp contains less than 0.3 percent THC (the chief intoxicant in marijuana), while THC levels in marijuana are generally between 3 oercent and 15 percent. We actually have wild hemp plants growing in groves and farmsteads around the area; it is likely that some of the wild plants are descendants of past hemp crops.

At one time, hemp was an important crop in the United States; it was used to make ropes and sail cloth for ships. Prior to the revolutionary war, colonists were required to grow hemp for the British Navy. Hemp production reached its peak in the U.S. during World War II. Up until then, a vast majority of rope and fiber came from Southeast Asia. When Japan invaded Southeast Asia, the supply line to the U.S. was cut off, leaving a shortage of rope and cordage. As a response, the U.S. Government sought to increase domestic fiber production. Over 40 hemp fiber plants were built in the upper Midwest and Kentucky. In fact, in 1942, the U.S. Government made a film titled "Hemp for Victory" encouraging farmers to grow hemp. In 1943, 176,000 acres were planted, mostly in the upper Midwest.


Kate Paulley