Hemp Crops Getting Destroyed and Stolen

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Before the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, hemp was a major industrial crop in the United States. Farmers had been growing hemp for hundreds of years here in North America for everything from fiber for rope to oil. Prohibition and the War on Drugs changed that, and now hemp is basically a new crop in the United States. There’s a major generational gap between those with practical experience and those currently hoping to farm industrial hemp.

As different states have legalized medical and recreational cannabis, some have also pushed for the legalization of industrial hemp farming, and 2018 saw the federal government also legalized growing industrial hemp. It is potentially a great boon to domestic farmers. At a time of increasing climate instability, industrial hemp is a hearty crop that can survive in many kinds of soil and different climates. With a political climate that undermines the value of commodity crops like soy due to trade wars, hemp is a crop that has plenty of domestic production demand.

Unlike smokable cannabis, which requires individual attention to plants, industrial hemp can be grown on a massive scale with very little input such as chemicals and fertilizers. Many farmers have been quick to jump on the opportunity that industrial hemp farming could represent, but some of them are learning the hard way that the government doesn’t really have all the kinks worked out yet.

In Minnesota, for example, the state found that they were woefully understaffed in terms of testing professionals. Unfortunately, the longer the hemp stays in the ground, the more THC it could potentially produce. Timely testing and harvesting, as well as quality seed supply, is necessary to ensure that industrial hemp crops comply with the 0.3% cutoff for THC concentration.

Hardworking, successful farmers in Minnesota found that the crops tested “hot,” meaning the THC levels were too high. While these THC levels were likely still too low for someone to enjoy smoking it, those plants still became illegal because of failed testing. Farmers are losing out on thousands of dollars worth of sales, to say nothing of the investment they made in machinery and seeds at the beginning of the season.

Issues with THC testing aren’t the only problem farmers face. Law enforcement officials have long worried that when hemp became a legal crop in the United States, they would struggle to tell the difference between non-psychoactive hemp and THC heavy cannabis. Unfortunately, some criminals have as much trouble telling the difference between industrial hemp and smokable cannabis as police claimed to have.

Specifically, some thieves in Franklin County, Washington are coming into an industrial hemp field and making off with the farmer’s plants. In fact, he estimates that the total damages of the theft will amount to roughly $70,000 when all is said and done. Those thieves are going to feel really disappointed when they get home with their plants and discover that smoking all of it does nothing more than give them a headache.

While these issues may get better with increased hemp farming infrastructure and more public knowledge about industrial hemp farming, those trying to be the first on this particular bandwagon may encounter these or similar headaches before they turn a profit on this incredible crop.

For previous Ladybud articles about industrial hemp, click here.