Can Hemp, long overshadowed by Marijuana, rise as an industry?

Article by Winston Ross, Newsweek

NEWS

The public still has trouble distinguishing between hemp and marijuana, both painted with the same brush by “reefer madness” scare tactics from the early 1900s that failed to differentiate between one form of cannabis that gets people high and another form that doesn’t. Hemp farming is bumping along slowly — in Oregon, 11 brand-new licensees planted five viable crops (others were spoiled thanks to infiltration from nearby pot farms and other issues) and this year the number of farmers has surged to 43. But the industry could be much bigger, Moran says. She filed a petition with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency just last week to declassify hemp as a federally banned “schedule 1” substance, thanks to the minuscule presence of THC in hemp.

There’s also tension between hemp and marijuana farmers, says Josh Taylor, who organized the hemp convention. Marijuana farmers worried that hemp plants will produce seeds that infiltrate their own crops have burned down the stalks, he said, which has led to “buffer zones” in states like Colorado.

“A lot of people come to events like this just looking to get high,” said Ben Christensen, who makes soap, lotion and massage oil out of hemp for his six-year-old business Oregon Hempworks. The company now sells products in 10 stores across the country, he said, and people are slowly learning that “this is not just some niche market for hippies. Everyone is asking for the stuff now.” But still, Christensen often finds himself explaining the difference between hemp and marijuana. “I can’t wait for the headlines to stop saying ‘High Hopes for Hemp,’” he says.

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