Cliff Thomason left the real estate business last year to become something of a pioneer: a hemp farmer.
The Grants Pass, Oregon, man was the first in the state to legally grow hemp, after Oregon began licensing growers in 2014, joining 17 other states nationwide that have differentiated hemp from marijuana and set up separate regulatory systems for growing it. But Thomason is one of only 43 farmers in the state targeting their efforts at producing seed and fiber, as opposed to the cannabidiol oil extracted from hemp stalk and used both as a balancer of the psychoactive properties of marijuana and a purely medicinal product, easing symptoms from back pain to anxiety. In the booming cannabis industry, hemp has become a neglected stepchild.
Grown for millennia, hemp’s uses as fiber and even building materials are apparently endless, but the hemp industry now finds itself completely overshadowed by its sexier cousin: marijuana. Legal pot in four states and the District of Columbia has resulted in a groundswell of attention and cash for a booming new industry, but the much more useful crop that was banned by the same federal law that halted legal marijuana in Oregon isn’t reaping much benefit. [Read more at Newsweek]