The state of Alaska had its Senate pass a law last year, authorizing the creation of a Hemp-Pilot program, which aims to study the growth, cultivation, and marketing of industrial hemp. The state has now proposed regulations for an industrial hemp pilot program.
The Hemp-Pilot Program
Anchorage TV station KTVA reported that as part of the research program. The State Plant Materials Center has six different strains for the first phase. According to the Center Director Rob Carter, the illegal status of hemp has hindered research regarding which varieties grow well.
Chris and Ember Haynes, owners of the Denali Hemp Company in Talkeetna, source their hemp seed oil components from Colorado because growing the Hemp plant is illegal. The owners wanted to grow hemp for oil, salves, and other farm applications, however, they will now participate in the pilot program to further expand their hemp business.
Hemp belongs to the same family as marijuana but has trace amounts of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). It has many industrial uses, making it a popular plant for research and development purposes.
Last year in April 2018, Alaskan state governor Walker signed the Senate Bill 6 into law which established the industrial hemp program in Alaska.
This law makes the Alaska Department of Natural Resources (DNR) the primary authority (through the Division of Agriculture). They are to create a program which would research the growth, cultivation, and marketing of industrial hemp. The aim of this program was to increase knowledge regarding the production of hemp and its potential in contributing to the Alaskan economy.
This law now allows Alaskans the opportunity to register and grow, cultivate, transport, process, and market industrial hemp. A key feature of the bill also includes the definition of industrial hemp. It now classifies as an industrial crop rather than a controlled substance. This is with the approval of the Division of Agriculture.
Licensing for participants will renew annually. Farmers must register the global positioning coordinates of their crop location with the Division of Agriculture. Registered farmers will also need to maintain three years of record of sold or transferred products to comply with the regulations. Crops with a Delta-9 THC level of more than 0.3% will not be valid for production.
What is the difference between Hemp and Marijuana?
Hemp and Marijuana are both produced by the plant Cannabis Sativa, however, they are different strains of the plant. Hemp has a very low THC concertation and is mostly made with stock fibers. It is very versatile to growing conditions and is often used in the production of hemp seed oil, food/seed, and fibers.
Marijuana has a very high THC concentration and requires specific growing conditions. Marijuana is extracted from the flowering of the Cannabis plant and is often used to produce THC or Cannabinoids
The hemp cropping proposed by the new regulations allow for industrial usage and not for recreational consumption. Industrial usage of hemp includes its applications in textiles, farming, furniture, livestock feed, and other industries.
Benefits of Industrial Hemp
Industrial Hemp has the potential to become integral to Alaska’s economy. Firstly, the booming industry helps create jobs, spur revenue and incorporate into an industry which is growing at an exponential rate across the country.
Every part of the plant including the roots, stalk, leaves, and seeds have various applications. Hemp can yield three to eight dry tons of fiber per acre which is four times the average forest yield.
The cultivation of hemp requires no chemicals and it grows without the use of pesticides or herbicides, moreover, it also has medicinal applications for conditions such as arthritis, joint pain, fibromyalgia, seizures, anxiety, and eczema. It is the strongest natural fiber in the world and has over 50,000 different uses.
Cultivation in Alaska and the Hemp-Pilot Program
The rapid growth of the plant can yield the production of paper and textiles, a process which is more efficient than using timber and leaves. This creates a small footprint, little wastage and is a sustainable process. Hemp has proven resilience in the Alaskan climate and can benefit from economic expansion and career opportunities for Alaskans. The Hemp-Pilot Program will help with this immensely.
The hemp markets are booming throughout the country and it is to become a multibillion-dollar market within a few years. The Alaskan hemp industry will be up and running within two to three years. It would greatly benefit from the lucrative hemp economy. The program has the interest of locals, In addition, to which, it also has the aim of providing opportunities for small farmers.
Hemp is an affordable, healthy and sustainable crop. It has the potential to allow communities to progress in terms of economic wellbeing, which is without a doubt, a positive step for Alaska and it joins 34 other states in the hemp industry.