INDIANAPOLIS — Leaders of the Indiana Hemp Industries Association have been hard at work in the effort to legalize the growing of hemp as a cash crop.
Jamie Campbell Petty, founder of the association, along with Vice President Tayler Glover, attended the Kentucky Hemp Spring Seminar to learn more about Kentucky’s progress. They also discussed opportunities for Indiana with global experts, as well as those leading the way in Kentucky.
Glover also traveled to Colorado for the NoCo Hemp Expo, attended by hemp experts, advocates and businesses, all with the common goal of making industrial hemp a reality for farmers.
What Is Hemp?
Often confused with its cousin, marijuana, hemp is a plant that can be used to make more than 50,000 products, including personal hygiene, composite materials automobile parts, office cubicles, clothing and animal bedding.
Hemp also is considered a “superfood,” along with chia, flax, garlic and several other popular nutritionally packed foods.
Hemp has a nearly negligible concentration of tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive drug desired by recreational marijuana users.
Is It Legal?
Because of the confusion surrounding these cousins, hemp has been slow to be legalized across the country. In the meantime, the U.S. continues to be the largest importer of hemp — with the majority of the imported hemp originating in China and, to a lesser degree, from Canada.
“To date, 21 states have defined industrial hemp as distinct and removed barriers to its production,” Petty said.
“However, these states are still subject to Section 7606 of the farm bill, which restricts growing of the plant to Departments of Agriculture and institutions of higher education for research purposes.”
Two federal bills are pending that would distinguish and separate industrial hemp from marijuana and allow farmers to grow the crop.
Hemp In Indiana
Purdue University, in conjunction with the Office of the State Seed Commissioner, is working to insure that pilot projects go forward this spring. Purdue’s research will focus on varietals of the plant and fertility issues.
Meanwhile, at the Lugar Renewable Energy Center at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis, a capstone class has chosen to research the economic feasibility of the hemp industry within Indiana.
On April 8, students held a focus group that brought together members of the hemp association, the energy community, Purdue University and Indiana Farm Bureau.
The students also prepared and distributed a survey to 75 Hoosier farmers.
“Over the past two months, the capstone students, known collectively as ‘Hope for Hemp,’ have talked to representatives from ISDA, Indiana Farm Bureau, Purdue, farmers, members of the state Legislature and existing hemp businesses,” Petty said.
“The work these students have undertaken is one more step to building a strong foundation for Indiana’s hemp industry. We look forward to evaluating and incorporating their findings into that process.”
The association’s community outreach coordinator, Ashley Sample, is building partnerships with existing Indiana businesses, such as Fresh Thyme, Foods Alive and Real Hemp.
“The common goal is to bring hemp back to Indiana as a viable crop option for our farmers, while also building a successful supply chain that includes processing, manufacturing and retail sales to provide jobs for our state,” Petty said.
For more information, please visit www.inhia.org.