Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill last month that legalized industrial hemp production — but not until 2020. Hemp comes from the cannabis plant, but unlike marijuana, it only contains trace amounts of THC – the psychoactive compound. Many farmers are ready and willing to produce hemp, but there are pitfalls, including a lack of knowledge about cultivating the plant.
John MacCormack reports for the San Antonio Express-News, and says that hemp is taking over the Texas farming industry in what he and others are calling a “hemp rush.” Hemp has many uses, including for clothes, rope, medicinal oil, health foods and construction materials. However, many farmers don’t know how to handle hemp, or where to sell it.
“No one knows how to grow hemp in Texas; no one has the right seeds, there’s no market, there’s no infrastructure, there’s no way to process the product,” MacCormack says. “Everybody is scrambling to get into it but when it’s all sorted out, not everyone is going to make a whole lot of money.”
Hey says that farmers all over the state are still eager to produce hemp after years of drought and struggling to beat Mexican vegetable prices. However, it’s unclear how much money they’ll be able to make or who might get a windfall.
“This isn’t a speculative crop. … There’s no question it’s a legitimate agriculture crop that will bring money through the door,” MacCormack says. “How much and for whom is the question that remains.”
Written by Marina Marquez.