Marijuana’s square cousin, industrial hemp, has come out of the black market and is now legal for farmers to cultivate, opening up a lucrative market. That was the idea, anyway.
Would-be hemp farmers are having mixed success navigating red tape on everything from seed acquisition to processing the plant. Farmers and regulators agree it will take years before there’s a viable market for hemp.
Hemp is prized for oils, seeds and fiber. But its production was prohibited for decades because the plant can be manipulated to enhance a psychoactive chemical making the drug marijuana.
The new Farm Bill ended decades of required federal permission to raise hemp, but only with state permission.
Colorado and Kentucky are forging ahead, but have struggled to get their hemp industries up and running.