Industrial Hemp to be grown in SWLA

Updated: Mar. 5, 2020 at 9:59 PM CST
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LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - Industrial Hemp, not to be confused with marijuana, contains less than 0.3% of THC and is used for a variety of things, from CBD products to building materials. Since Dec. 23, 2019, the USDA approved the state’s plan to grow industrial hemp through the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF).

“There are about 350 to 400,000 acres of hemp that are being grown outside of the United States and all those products were being imported,” said Mike Strain, Louisiana Commissioner for Agriculture and Forestry. “It’s a way for farmers to have an alternative crop and also just basic to expand the number of crops that we are growing.”

Those that wanted to grow, produce seeds, or carry industrial hemp must receive a license through LDAF. There is no minimum acreage to apply to become an industrial hemp grower, but applicants do go through a background check. Since industrial hemp and marijuana are almost indistinguishable from each other, LDAF monitors the crops from the very beginning.

“Before you buy your seeds, you have to inform us of where they’re coming from,” Strain said. "We have an approved list of seed providers and when you buy your seed you need third party verification. We know that what the difference is between a mature hemp plant, and a mature marijuana plant in the same family, cannabis sativa, most of them will look different at maturity. We will also be doing routine sampling.

The first industrial hemp license in the state has been issued to Nanette Noland, President of the Powell Group. She plans to grow hemp in Calcasieu Parish.

“It’s an experiment, because we know that what grows in Colorado or Oklahoma isn’t going to grow here," Noland said. "So, we have to pick, just like rice, and just like the pine tree. This isn’t rocket science, it’s just a bit of due diligence and experimentation.”

She is the only person from our area that has received a license to grow industrial hemp.

“I think what I am is cautiously optimistic," Noland said. "I hope that we can have a price that is maintained in the marketplace so we can make some money. But it’s clear to me that the hemp market is enormous. Absolutely enormous, so shame on me if I can’t figure out a way to make money out of it.”

Noland is currently planning to grow 15 acres of industrial hemp for CBD production.

For more information on industrial hemp, and how to apply to be a grower, click HERE.

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