Kentucky gears up for third year of hemp research projects

Kentucky gears up for third year of hemp research projects

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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) -- The Department of Agriculture is planting 4,500 acres of hemp in 2016. These acres will add to hemp research projects that were started in 2014.

Kentucky was the leader in producing industrial hemp for almost 150 years before Congress outlawed production in the 1930's. Hemp production was legalized in the early 40's, but Kentucky never bounced back.

The Kentucky Department of Agriculture started these industrial hemp research projects to study production, processing and potential products.

"It's important to note that Kentucky, back in 2014 reintroduced a crop that had not been seen for decades," Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles said."

The research projects will set Kentucky apart from other states.

"So that we have a competitive edge, establish research production and also a market, for if and when it becomes a legal crop."

Quarles also said that of all the states that do have research, Kentucky is number one.

"Kentucky is known as not only having a historical path of industrial hemp, but today it's known as having the most robust research program," Quarles said.

Industrial hemp is used in everyday products like health products, clothes and makeup.

"There's also a pharmaceutical side, which revolves around the CBD Oil extraction plant, which has shown promise to treat people who suffer from epilepsy or seizures," Quarles said.

But the department says Hemp isn't the only thing they are researching.

"Here at the Kentucky Department of Ag, we're looking at more than just one crop for Kentucky farmers to potentially benefit from," Quarles added.

Western Kentucky University has hemp research fields on its farm. They say the industrial hemp has not been planted yet, but will be once the temperature warms up.

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