NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Industrial Hemp production in Tennessee is one step closer to becoming a reality. Tuesday, farmers and some retailers discussed a licensing and inspection program, which is required before the state can move forward.
Farmers are already growing Industrial Hemp in Kentucky. Jeff Davis is growing it on his farm in Christian County, Kentucky.
He was approached last spring about starting a pilot program to grow the plant in Kentucky.
“We need to try to boost the economy, and this has got so much potential,” Davis said
Greta Gaines, who owned a business selling skin care products containing Industrial Hemp, was one of about 50 people at a public hearing at the Ellington Agricultural Center Tuesday.
“I’m very excited about the possibility in the future about making products from Tennessee grown hemp,” Gaines said.
The Tennessee Department of Agriculture hosted the hearing.
They’re putting together a licensing and inspection program for the production of industrial hemp in the Volunteer State.
Several farmers want to grow the crop, because it can be used to make products like food, t-shirts, tennis shoes, skin products and pharmaceuticals.
Right now, those products are imported from Canada.
“Hemp has been here for a long time and we’re just not growing it,” Colleen Sauve’ said.
Tennessee’s licensing and inspection program is important because under federal law hemp is classified as an illegal drug.
Hemp is a marijuana plant, but the level of THC is so low, it’s useless as a recreational drug.
Some farmers are concerned about inadvertently breaking the law.
“It’s a very fine line between when you’re seeds are mature and when you’re going to be spiking hot,” Harold Jarboe said.
The DEA has left marijuana producers alone in Colorado and Washington where recreational marijuana is legal.
Tennessee lawmakers expect the DEA to give Tennessee farmers the same courtesy.
Kentucky farmers got the green light to grow it last year. Next year it should happen in Tennessee.
“I don’t see what it would hurt to try something new,” Davis said.
If all goes as planned, farmers in Tennessee could begin growing Industrial Hemp in the spring.