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    Hemp: What Are We Waiting For?

    It has been a while since I have taken the virtual quill to paper. The past year was absolutely hectic with career changes. I now have one focus, Memes Associates. With this focus I can now get back to writing and sharing information about my love of agriculture! 

    I can think of no better topic to write about than industrial hemp. This will be the first in a 7 part series on this spectacular crop.
    Part 1 
    What is Industrial Hemp?
    Hemp is the common name for plants of the entire genus Cannabis. This term is often used to refer only to Cannabis strains cultivated for industrial (non-drug) use. 
    Industrial Hemp
    Industrial Hemp, cannabis sativa L. subsp. sativa produces minuscule amounts of THC, so little in fact, that there are no physical effects as compared to marijuana, an entirely different strain of Hemp. Currently there are approximately 100 different strains of industrial hemp stored in seed banks. The uses of industrial hemp, from food to skin care to phytoremediation and textiles, are vast, allowing farmers to produce a crop with multiple market demands...once we finally decide to move forward and decriminalize its production.

    Where Can It Grow?

    Hemp originated in Central Asia. It then spread through the Europe in to Chile and later North America. Actually, it can be grown virtually anywhere:
    Industrial Hemp growing regions, courtesy of Illinois Business Council, University of Illinois

    No matter your climate, industrial hemp can most likely be cultivated as a cash crop. With its deep penetrating tap root, strong resistance to pests, disease, and weed infestations, it makes perfect sense to investigate adding industrial hemp into your crop rotation. And the best part? the long tap root means industrial hemp can find water with the best of crops making it an excellent crop to help reclaim land in drought conditions. Texas and California anyone?

    If It Is So Good, Why Aren't We Producing More of It?

    I am glad you asked! In 1937 the Marijuana Tax Act was passed and Harry Anslinger, then the head of the newly formed Bureau of Narcotics, ordered hemp prohibition. Mr. Anslinger believed that it would be too difficult to tell the difference between industrial hemp and marijuana so farmers were no longer allowed to produce industrial hemp. We did have a hiatus during World War II though. Not only that the USDA was subsidizing the production of hemp and promoting it as a patriotic endeavor!

    Yes, the USDA was asking us to produce hemp!

    The war ended, hemp prohibition was put back in place and all hemp crops were destroyed by the Air Force and Marines.

     Fast forward to today and it is still illegal to produce industrial hemp in most of the United States, although there is progress on the legislative front. See Colorado and Washington. It is past time that we start looking into integrating industrial hemp into production agriculture in the US. Other countries like Canada, China, and parts of the EU are well ahead of us. Let's get moving! 

    What Are The Markets for Industrial Hemp?

    I will focus on these broad categories in this series:
    1. Food Products
    2. Skin Care
    3. Paper
    4. Textiles
    5. Composite Materials
    6. Phytoremediation
    In Part 2 I will cover the potential for industrial hemp in the food products market. Nature's crop, industrial hemp, will be a major player in production agriculture moving 

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    Agriculture passionado! I lead GeoVantage's Sales, Marketing, and Business Development activities. If you haven't explored the benefit of remote sensing for production agriculture, now is the time! Not one to rest, I am also a part of the Memes Associates team where we focus on assisting large companies in the agriculture space to "re-discover their inner entrepreneur" through the introduction of market disrupting technology(s) and services.  

    Have questions about agriculture and technology in agriculture? Ask away! 

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