Reintroduction of industrial hemp into US agriculture

A breakfast meeting on May 15, 2018, in St. Joseph County will focus on industrial hemp as a cash crop and how it may fit into future farming operations in Michigan.

May 9, 2018 - Author: Eric Anderson, James DeDecker and Kurt Thelen, Michigan State University Extension

Industrial hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) was historically an important fiber and oil crop in the U.S., but for over a half-century, it has not been legal to grow in the country due to its perceived link to marijuana and the psychoactive drug tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Industrial hemp is classified as cannabis with less than 0.3 percent THC; levels in marijuana range widely from 5-25 percent with average concentrations reportedly being higher now than a few decades ago. The Controlled Substance Act of 1970 declared all cannabis varieties as Schedule 1 controlled substances, which are regulated and monitored by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Even though industrial hemp was legally separated from the definition of marijuana in Michigan during 2015 by Governor Rick Snyder (see the article, “Michigan approves industrial hemp research,” James DeDecker, Michigan State University Extension), research on the crop has failed to get off the ground here.

A recent federal court ruling re-asserted the link between THC and cannabidiol (CBD)—the non-psychoactive chemical in cannabis purported to have medicinal and nutritive qualities—making it a federal violation to sell cannabis containing THC and CBD. Industrial hemp contains CBD and therefore remains subject to federal Schedule 1 regulations. However, legalization of recreational marijuana is likely to be on the November 2018 ballot in Michigan. This ballot initiative would also legalize industrial hemp cultivation in the state, putting Michigan in a similar position to other states like Colorado where state and federal law are at odds.

According to St. Joseph County Extension website

Tags: agriculture, field crops, msu extension


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