DES MOINES, Iowa —
Could Iowa soon see a new cash crop, among our fields of corn and soybeans?
The big topic at the State Capitol Monday was hemp.
Three of the six members of the Hemp Program Study Committee are farmers, and they seemed receptive for the most part.
“Hemp can make paper, polymers, plastics, it can make batteries, houses,” Colorado hemp farmer Rick Trojan said.
Hemp is a new industry made possible by the 2014 Farm Bill that allows states to license hemp growers as long as they are affiliated with a research component.
“I’ve got enough orders for the next 10 years,” Kentucky hemp farmer Mike Lewis said.
Lewis said business has been so good in the past two years that a textile mill is being built in his tiny town to produce hemp yarn.
“From the mindsets of the people of my town has been a compete 180. We were kind of in that fringe element that we were just trying to grow dope, and now realizing we are trying to bring real jobs and real skilled labor back into our communities,” he said.
America is the No. 1 consumer of hemp, which is why more states are taking a hard look at starting controlled operations.
Hemp is a variety of cannabis that has virtually no psychoactive effects.
“…that’s where industrial hemp can be confusing, because you have this section of the farm bill that allows it, but it is still a schedule 1 narcotic by DEA…” said Robin Pruisner, of the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship 21.
“We’re producing textiles and this is a four-year low budget journey by a bunch of small scale organic farmers so just imagine what Iowa could turn up on that,” Lewis said.
Some Iowans use hemp extracts or oils to treat seizures. They can possess it but cannot legally bring it across state lines.
Sen. Tim Kapucian, a Republican from eastern Iowa, said he thinks we will see something from the Iowa legislature in regard to an industrial hemp program this session.