Hemp, one of the fastest growing plants in the world, was spun into usable fibers over 10,000 years ago. Known as the most versatile plant on earth, hemp can be used for making a huge variety of things like paper, textiles, cloth, biodegradable plastics, paint, biofuel…the list is long and includes a hemp car made by Henry Ford.
Hemp was made illegal in 1937 in the United States for reasons best known to the reefer madness madmen who deemed it a violent and dangerous drug, although it was known then—as now—that hemp does nothing more than act as an amazing resource to virtually most products in any industry.
Now after nearly 80 years, hemp is making comeback thanks to the 2014 farm bill that removed it from the Controlled Substances Act.
Kentucky began growing hemp in 2014 for research purposes and is now accepting accepting applications for those who want to take part in the the pilot program allowed under the bill.
With the pilot program finally in full swing, the Kentucky Department of Agriculture (KDA) is very optimistic.
“In the first year, about 30 acres were planted. In the second year, about 900. This year, over 2,000. And we fully expect there to be substantial growth in 2017,” Ryan Quarles, Kentucky’s agricultural commissioner told Kentucky Public Radio.
Quarles, naturally, is hoping Congress will eventually loosen restrictions on hemp production even further.
“We believe that Congress will take a serious look at the legalization of industrial hemp over the coming years,” Quarles added.
The pilot program still faces some challenges, one of which is providing hemp seeds to participating farmers because after so many years of prohibition, the US’s seed stock was lost.
But the ball is rolling now in Kentucky as the KDA invites applicants to join the state in cultivating and promoting one of the most useful plants known to mankind.