By Nathan Ham
Marijuana and hemp have been taboo subjects at times, especially at the political level. Now it seems over the last few years, the value from hemp production has been recognized by citizens and lawmakers across the country.
The 2018 Farm Bill officially signed into law by President Donald Trump this week was bipartisan legislation that included provisions in the bill from North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis that removed hemp from the federal controlled substance list.
“The bipartisan 2018 Farm Bill is a win for America’s farmers following a tough year consisting of trade disputes and natural disasters,” said Sen. Tillis. “I am proud the final version of this legislation contained multiple provisions I fought for on behalf of North Carolina’s farmers, including legislation to spur investment in rural businesses and to keep North Carolina’s textile and cotton industries globally competitive.”
Any hemp plant containing 0.3 percent or less of THC, the product in marijuana that is considered to be the illegal part of the plant that gets users “high,” can be grown legally in the United States.
Hemp plants have been used and researched for centuries, and are widely popular for the strength of the fibers and now for the popular CBD oil that is believed to have several medicinal qualities to help people suffering from a long list of ailments.
Hemp growers in North Carolina have been able to grow the plant legally since 2017, thanks to hemp growing pilot programs. It was the 2014 Farm Bill signed by President Barack Obama that officially ended the 40-year ban on growing hemp. The popularity is expected to skyrocket now that the plant will be considered an “agricultural commodity” and will instead be regulated by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) instead of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
According to a study done by NC State University, there are already over 500 hemp growers in North Carolina. All of these growers are licensed and follow strict regulations that could mean testing their plants for THC levels. If the levels rise above the 0.3 percent, the entire crop has to be destroyed by law.
Even more importantly for growers, the legalization of hemp nationwide means that crops can be insured just like any other agricultural product. In case a natural disaster were to destroy the crops, growers that had insurance will receive financial assistance to recover from the disaster. In addition to being insured, hemp growers will now be able to get loans from banks or credit card companies to be able to grow the product. In the past, banks would not typically approve any sort of financial assistance for growing hemp because of how it is always tied into being the “brother” of the marijuana plant.
All but 11 states in the country already allowed for growing hemp for research.
Locally, one hemp grower has already started their crops and another is preparing to embark on the journey. In neighboring Wilkes County, realtor Andy Stancil, 69, started growing hemp this summer after discovering the benefits of CBD oil after a battle with cancer in 2016.
Stancil’s crop is fully licensed by the N.C. Industrial Hemp Commission and is protected by an electrically charged fence to keep people and animals out of the crop.
Former Appalachian Mountain Brewery owner Sean Spiegelman is ready to jump into the hemp and CBD oil industry. His company, Between Dandelions Inc. will be focused on growing hemp and producing products for the CBD oil market.
A news release about the joint venture formed from Between Dandelions and Hempleton Investment Group of Wilmington announced the move.
“This kind of partnership aligns perfectly with what we’re building Between Dandelions, Inc to do: help bring lifestyle brands to market that give back to their communities coast to coast. As we look to the future, we’re excited to broaden the alliance with real brands that are steeped in place and legacy and nurture their ability to serve today’s increasing demand for the highest quality consumer hemp-derived CBD and Hemp products all up and down the east coast,” said Spiegelman, the chief executive officer of Between Dandelions, Inc. “Justin and the entire team at Hempleton Investment Group, Inc. have already built an amazing company, known just as much for its leadership as they are for their innovation and forward thinking. We are thrilled to support their ongoing innovation and look forward to exploring opportunities to share resources, not to mention craft genuine consumer products that have a purpose to heal people while giving back to their communities where their products are sold.”