industrial hemp

Hemp farming exploded after the 2018 Farm Bill passed last December. The bill decriminalized the plant at the federal level, opening the door for many U.S. farmers to grow and sell hemp.

Over the past year, licensed hemp acreage increased more than 445%, according to the advocacy and research group Vote Hemp. More than 510,000 acres of hemp were licensed in 2019, versus about 112,000 acres in 2018.

Lawmakers unveiled the much-anticipated farm bill compromise Monday night, ending the months-long impasse over whether a critical piece of legislation that provides subsidies to farmers and helps needy Americans buy groceries could pass before the lame-duck session concludes at the end of the year.

For the first time in what historians say could be centuries, hemp has been grown and harvested at Mount Vernon, George Washington's historic estate.

In the 1760s, Washington predicted that hemp could be a more profitable crop than tobacco and grew it across his farm. At the time, hemp was abundant in Virginia and elsewhere in the U.S.

Flickr / Jonathan Reyes

Leaders in Congress say they aim to pass a finalized Farm Bill before the Fourth of July recess. If Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has his way, that bill will include the legalization of industrial hemp. The industrial hemp business is increasingly seen as an economic savior and substitute for vulnerable industries like mining.

Magalie L'Abbé / Flickr

Officials at Oklahoma's Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry are working on rules to regulate the cultivation of industrial hemp.

Governor Mary Fallin signed bipartisan legislation this week that legalizes the crop in the state.

Industrial hemp is grown for its fiber and its oil, and can be used to make rope, clothes, paper, plastics, insulation and biofuel.

Sen. Lonnie Paxton (R-Tuttle) is one of the bill's authors. He says the new industry could create thousands of jobs and pour millions of dollars into the state's economy.