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It’s hard to believe that we are entering into the fourth growing season since hemp became fully federally legal. It sometimes feels like a lifetime ago and at other times it feels like yesterday. The industry has certainly experienced growing pains, especially on the cannabinoid side.

Cannabinoid or floral hemp, without question, has opened a lot of opportunity for the industry and has provided incredible benefits to a lot of people. However, because CBD has dominated the industry thus far, it is too common a perception with both the public, legislators and regulators that the words hemp and CBD mean the same thing.

This couldn’t be further from the truth. Cannabinoid/floral hemp represents only a small fraction of the potential of the sustainable uses of hemp. While cannabinoids will always be a very important segment of the industry, it is fiber and grain hemp that can provide superior nutrition, create green building materials, produce alternative plastics and fuels, create new jobs and help mitigate climate change.

When the word “industrial” was dropped from the definition of hemp, we lost a very important distinction between two very different crops. These crops which are visually very different and are cultivated very differently, need to be regulated differently.

For fiber and grain (industrial hemp) to become a common crop farmers grow in their rotations with other row crops like corn, soy or wheat, we need hemp to be treated more like these other common commodity crops. We need a grain and fiber hemp exemption.

It’s time that we reduce the burden on hemp farmers who grow for grain and fiber. The end-use products that result from their production have always been recognized and exempted from the Controlled Substances Act and under the current USDA rules if a crop fails the compliance test the option is to sell only the stalk and seed.

These facts reinforce the logic that when fiber and grain are the only intended harvested materials, there is no reason to burden the farmers who grow fiber and grain crops with background checks or costly sampling and testing protocols.

The National Hemp Association, Agricultural Hemp Solutions and IND HEMP have been working closely together to make this much needed exemption a reality. Much progress has already been made and we hope we can count on everyone to get behind this important initiative.

As we look to unleash the full potential of hemp, we need millions of acres to be grown. To achieve these goals, we need to remove the barriers that prevent industrial hemp from being grown on a commercial scale.

Visit hempexemption.com to stay up to date on the latest developments and learn how to get involved.

Learn more about the Industrial Hemp Exemption on the Lancaster Farming Podcast.

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