Wisconsin farmers involved in a hemp-growing pilot project are heaving a sigh of relief following Attorney General Brad Schimel’s turnaround that would have prohibited them from producing CBD oil for this highly lucrative cannabis by-product market.
Interest in the pilot project has resulted in about 360 applications but, to date, only 72 licenses have been granted. Nevertheless, the hemp-growing green light will stimulate Wisconsin’s flagging agricultural sector as prices for milk and soya beans plummet, commodities that have been the lifeblood of the local farming community.
Hemp is used in the manufacture of a myriad of products but it is the CBD oil derived from the plant and that is used to treat a variety of medical conditions that have perked farmer interest. Hemp can be grown on small acreages and can be hand-harvested, negating the need for expensive equipment.
CBD oil retails at $14,000 per kilo
With processed CBD oils retailing at $14,000 per kilo it is no wonder that farmers are jumping at the opportunity of taking part in the pilot project. It is particularly appealing to the younger farming generation because overheads can be kept to a minimum – hemp is planted and harvested by hand and can be extremely profitable without needing vast acreages for production.
In neighboring Colorado, 80 percent of the 18,000 acres that are registered for hemp production is dedicated to producing CBD oil. In fact, Colorado’s total hemp farmland represents half of the total acreage under hemp production in the US. The state has 386 registered hemp farmers.Hemp is grown for a variety of products that include seeds, textiles and construction materials. But it is the CBD oil that commands the big bucks and naturally is far more attractive to the farming community.
When Schimel first threw a spanner in the works by overturning a previous decision to allow Wisconsin farmers to grow hemp, it put the agricultural community into a state of panic. Millions of dollars had already been invested by those keen to take part in the pilot project.
However, the turnaround came after Schimel met with lawmakers, representatives and officials from the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation and the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP). The roundtable talks resulted in the following decisions;
- Wisconsin farmers can produce CBD oil without fear of criminal prosecution
- They can plant industrial hemp
- They can sell hemp plants or parts of it to whomever they see fit
- They can process hemp plants
- They must, however, abide by DATCP regulations
What is CBD oil?
CBD oil is a derivativeof the hemp plant that is produced by processing the plant flowers. The oil is rich in CBD, with low THC content. CBD is the cannabis compound used to treat any number of illnesses and is proving invaluable in the fight against cancer and other debilitating health issues such as acute epilepsy and Alzheimer’s Disease. Because CBD is non-psychoactive, it does not make the user “high”. That element is created by the THC content in the cannabis plant.
Hemp-hype began in Wisconsin last year November when legislation was approved by Governor Scott Walker to allow farmers to take part in a statewide pilot project. Hemp is viewed as a potentially high-value and profitable crop that could provide the answer to Wisconsin’s flagging milk and soya bean agricultural industry. This form of farming is thought could also become a lucrative stream of revenue for farmers with small acreages and minimal budgets, as hemp can be hand-harvested eliminating the need for expensive overheads such as machinery.
According to Rob Richard of the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation, hemp farming will create new and lucrative opportunitiesnot only for farmers, but also manufacturers and retailers of CBD oil.
The release points out these legal protections only apply to farmers working in compliance with DATCP authorization and retailers who are selling CBD certified to be in compliance with the provisions of the Farm Bill.
While Schimel may have made a turnaround in his previous decision, he still remains cautious about the hemp industry by reminding Wisconsin residents that “certain products” produced from hemp could pose a health hazard. He also questioned the labeling of certain hemp products. The Attorney General Schimel said there was a great deal of confusion and uncertainty about CBD-labeled products on the shelves of grocery and health food stores.
But one thing is for sure – Wisconsin’s new hemp-growing industry could pave the way to a far rosier future for its farming community.