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article imageIndustrial hemp will be big as soon as legal seeds are plentiful

By Ryan Hite     May 28, 2014 in Environment
A recent bill allows for limited industrial hemp production. Long associated with weed, hemp could save the world, but there are a lot of legal hurdles with the plant.
The bill allows small-scale experimentation with this versatile plant. But despite the new law, many farmers stated that they're getting mixed messages from the federal government.
Hemp is the same species as marijuana, but a different variety, one that lacks THC, the compound that gives users the high when smoked or ingested.
Hemp seeds are increasingly showing up in our food foods, and farmers say the plant's fibers can be turned into everything from clothing to rope to car interiors.
The recent farm bill allows farmers to start experimenting with hemp in states that have legalized the crop, like Colorado. The plant has been tightly controlled for almost 50 years.
During World War II, the U.S. had high demand for hemp for use in rope on naval ships and on trooper's parachutes that the Department of Agriculture actually made a promotional film to encourage farmers to grow it.
But that was a long time ago. Today, U.S. hemp seed is scarce. It's technically still illegal to import viable seed and it has to be sterile. So anyone with usable seed is suddenly very popular.
This year, demand for hemp seed far exceeds the supply, and Holmes says he's been inundated.
As a distributor, people are in a great situation to actually get seed to farmers, except he doesn't have enough to go around. The DEA recently seized a shipment of Italian hemp seed that was destined Kentucky.
That level of intrigue is probably large enough to scare off most crop farmers from hemp. The reality is that it is pretty tough to grow hemp in the U.S. right now, with limited seed stocks, legal roadblocks, and low levels of research.
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