hemp

Brian Grimmett / Kansas News Service

Wichita — Sarah Stephens stands over a brightly lit table in a detached garage-turned-grow shed as she trims away unnecessary leaves from a recently harvested hemp plant.

When she’s finished, only the floral material of the plant will be left. The flowers will eventually be processed into CBD oil.

“We started out with not a ton of knowledge about it,” Michael Stephens, Sarah’s brother and partner at Tallgrass Hemp and Cannabis, said. “It’s been a learning experience.”

TOPEKA — They’re here in Kansas. CBD products with a bit of that oh-so-taboo THC in them. To vape, to put under your tongue.

Some retailers argue those products became legal on July 1 because of tweaks to state regulation of cannabis-related substances in a bill supporting the state’s fledgling industrial hemp program.

Brian Grimmett / Kansas News Service

PLEVNA, Kansas — P.J. Sneed walks through his small greenhouse in central Kansas checking on rows and rows of small hemp plants just waiting to be put into the ground.

The plants inside the greenhouse near Plevna look rather healthy. Problematically, they look better than the plants in the few acres he’s already planted just outside of the greenhouse.

CBD is a key part of a drug that’s used to treat epilepsy in children. A small pilot study by Colorado State University suggests the hemp-derived oil may do the same for dogs suffering from seizures.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

Kansas lawmakers have rejected proposals to legalize medical cannabis in recent years. With a new governor in office, a bipartisan group of legislators is hoping this year could be different.

Stephen Koranda

Joe Bisogno sees a bright future for industrial hemp in Kansas. The plant is a close relative of marijuana, but it lacks the high-producing chemical THC.

The crop can be used to make everything from textiles to health and food products.

“Industrial hemp is not pot, but it is a pot of gold for Kansas,” Bisogno said before the ribbon cutting on a new hemp training facility in De Soto.

Bisogno founded America’s Hemp Academy to train people on growing hemp, but other state officials hope Kansas can cash in on more than just growing the crop.

Dani Billings, Colorado Hemp Project

P.J. Sneed is a nurse at a hospital in Wichita, but only until the end of the June. That’s when he’ll quit to become a hemp farmer.

“I’ve not grown a stitch of hemp,” he said. “But I feel like I know how I could do it and have a plan to do it.”

He’ll need more than just enthusiasm to succeed as he trades the stresses of checking patients’ vital signs and administering medicine for the stresses of growing a new crop without experience or the benefits of crop insurance.

The Senate Agriculture Committee unveiled its version of the farm bill Friday, including a path to legalizing industrial hemp. That’s an effort being pushed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, whose state, Kentucky, is a leader in the crop.

Harvest Public Media/File photo

This winter we reported that Kansas is one of just four states with the strictest cannabis laws in the country.

But the 2018 legislative session that ended earlier this month shook the state’s legal landscape. So what has changed and what hasn’t?

University of Kentucky College of Agriculture

Industrial hemp is coming to Kansas, but first the Department of Agriculture has to figure out how to regulate it.

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