Hemp

Andrew Marsh/Conn Center.

Kentucky lawmakers want Congress to redefine the federal definition of hemp.

A state resolution that passed overwhelmingly in the Kentucky House Tuesday asks the federal government to loosen regulations that could require farmers to destroy their hemp crops.

Farmers grew 92 percent of Kentucky’s hemp harvest last year for CBD. It’s a popular compound users claim has medicinal benefits. CBD-rich hemp also has low levels of the intoxicating compound THC, which is found in marijuana.

Hemp must have THC levels below 0.3 percent or else the government can classify it as illegal marijana and require farmers to destroy the crop.


Liam Niemeyer I Ohio Valley ReSource

John Fuller is waiting for another farmer he’s never met before to talk about a situation he never imagined he would be in.

It’s an overcast January day on his farm in west Kentucky, where he grew 18 acres of hemp last year, investing more than $250,000 of his own cash. He’s one of nearly 1,000 licensed hemp growers in 2019 who helped grow Kentucky’s biggest hemp crop since the state reintroduced it, trying to cash in on what could be a $1 billion industry for CBD products made from hemp.

But now, Fuller is wondering how much of that investment he’ll get back.


Liam Niemeyer | WKMS

One of the largest hemp processing companies in Kentucky is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

GenCanna’s filing Thursday in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Eastern District of Kentucky, if granted, would allow the company to operate while seeking options including refinancing or finding an entity to buy the company.

GenCanna launched in Winchester, Kentucky, in 2014 when the state legalized the cultivation of hemp under a pilot program. GenCanna processes hemp into products made from CBD, a compound many users claim has medicinal benefits. The company in past years had invested heavily in marketing throughout the state, buying billboard space in west Kentucky and becoming last year’s title sponsor for the Kentucky State Fair.

Company CEO Matty Mangone Miranda in a statement said the bankruptcy process will allow GenCanna to navigate several ongoing issues that include an uncertain regulatory environment surrounding hemp and CBD and a “legal dispute” in west Kentucky.

 


Liam Niemeyer I Ohio Valley ReSource

Ohio Valley farmers planted more than 27,000 acres of hemp last year — about four times more than in 2018 —  to cash in on a booming market for popular CBD products made from the crop.

Yet with that growing boom, the price of CBD-rich hemp has crashed, dropping more than 75 percent in just 6 months. Many farmers are now feeling the financial pinch of that bust.

A report from Colorado-based analytics firm PanXchange said Kentucky farmers last July on average could get $4.35 for each percent of CBD in each pound of hemp. For example, if a pound of hemp contained 6 percent CBD, then each pound of hemp could sell for about $26. Multiply that by thousands of pounds of harvested hemp, and the potential payday could be significant.


J. Tyler Franklin

During a year-end interview, Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles said he’s focused on his second term in office and not currently planning a run for governor in 2023.

Quarles won reelection by a wide margin in November and has been mentioned as a potential challenger to newly inaugurated Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear.

But Quarles says he’s focused on being commissioner, which he called “the highest office in Kentucky.”


Liam Niemeyer | Ohio Valley ReSource

Tony Silvernail swings a heavy machete at a stalk of bushy hemp and chops the plant near the root, grabbing the five-foot-tall shoot with his sun-weathered hand.

It’s an unusually hot October day on his farm, Beyond The Bridge LLC, tucked in the hills outside of Frankfort, Kentucky. But the heat doesn’t faze Silvernail, sporting a sweat-soaked shirt, a huge smile, and a fat cigar between his teeth.

Silvernail and hundreds of others of farmers across the Ohio Valley are finally getting to harvest thousands of acres of hemp, the first harvest since the federal government legalized hemp cultivation last December.


Adrian Cable/WikimediaCommons

Some Kentucky businesses that sell hemp products are still having trouble getting financial services, lawmakers were told during a legislative committee on Wednesday.

Banks are still hesitant to offer loans or credit card processing capabilities to hemp farmers, processors and retailers because of the plant’s similarities to cannabis, even though hemp was legalized by the federal government in 2018.


Adrian Cable/WikimediaCommons

The Kentucky State Fair starts on Thursday, and the presenting sponsor will be a hemp production company — a first in the fair’s 115-year history.

State Fair officials named GenCanna as the presenting sponsor in a June 4 announcement, adding that hemp has a promising future in Kentucky. The company will host a booth at the fair with free merchandise, information on partner opportunities and educational information about hemp. State Fair spokesman Ian Cox said the fair board chose GenCanna because of its work promoting Kentucky’s agriculture.

 


Evan Heichelbech

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell joined Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles and USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue in Louisville Tuesday to talk to hemp farmers and providers about the industry’s challenges.

All three officials echoed similar sentiments of the challenges hemp farmers and providers are experiencing, despite being just six months removed from the 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized the crop.

At hemp processor Commonwealth Extracts warehouse on Tuesday, McConnell said Kentucky is “in the red zone” with hemp.

Kentucky’s agriculture commissioner says a legal opinion from the USDA provides much needed certainty for the hemp industry. 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says hemp can be transported across state lines, even through states that haven’t passed laws allowing the crop’s production.  The legal opinion notes the 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp from a federal list of controlled substances. 

Harvest, Inc.

Meigs County, Ohio, has a complicated history with marijuana.

“Meigs County Gold” has been grown illegally for years. Local legend has it that was the strain of choice for musicians like the Grateful Dead and Willie Nelson when they toured Ohio.

But for Meigs County Commissioner Randy Smith, that isn’t a source of pride. Instead it felt like a target on his back.


Provided by Adriane Polyniak

Inside the Bluegrass Hemp Oil store in Lexington, Kentucky, the CBD oils and lotions lining the walls have an origin story — a story of a family’s struggle.

“We took a huge risk, to be perfectly honest, because we didn’t know. We weren’t trying other people’s CBD products that were out there,” Bluegrass Hemp Oil Co-owner Adriane Polyniak, said.

Polyniak’s son, Colten, began inexplicably having violent seizures in 2009 when he was three. He was diagnosed with idiopathic generalized epilepsy.


Andrew Marsh/Conn Center.

Sales of Kentucky hemp products were up big in 2018, even before the federal government legalized the crop in last year’s farm bill.

According to Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles, hemp sales rose $41 million in 2018, more than three and a half times higher than the year before.

In a release, Quarles said the amount that processors paid to Kentucky farmers more than doubled, rising from $7.5 million in 2017 to nearly $18 million last year.

Lisa Autry

Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles says hemp is still facing an unfair stigma. 

Kentucky’s biggest impediment to full-scale commercialization of hemp was removed by the 2018 Farm Bill that passed Congress late last year.  The legislation de-classified the crop as a controlled substance and legalized industrial hemp.

Speaking in Bowling Green on Thursday, Quarles said hemp is being discriminated against on social media platforms, particularly Facebook, which has removed some hemp-related pages.

Glynis Board

Inside Winkin’ Sun Hemp Company in downtown Wheeling, West Virginia, store owner Doug Flight tries to position himself in front of a camera crew.

His experience with growing and selling hemp spans years. But memorizing lines for what he says could be the first hemp TV commercial in the state is another issue.

“I know, I grow,” Flight says to the camera. “Is that it?” Flight asked.


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