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Tuesday, August 9, 2022

An upcoming study on teasing cannabis production to revive the industry

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A lawmaker from northwest Oklahoma plans to re-explore the industrial future of the state’s cannabis crop after the COVID-19 pandemic and the legalization of medical marijuana, it is reported, sidelining the growing industry.

Senator Roland Pederson, R. Burlington, is one of three Oklahoma senators and six representatives across the state listed as authors in the Joint interim legislative studyIt was approved last week on rural development through industrial hemp production.

Last Friday, House Speaker Charles McCaul, R Atoka, approved the joint study by the House of Representatives, with 81 othersfor the next legislative session 2023.

The study said it was awaiting Senate approval, but Pederson said it wasn’t clear if the study still needed approval from pro-Tim Senate President Greg Treat, who already OK’d 41 out of 60 proposed Senate studies On 1 July.

Hearings for interim studies will be broadcast in the House and Senate beginning in August.

He said Pederson’s joint study aims to find out if state legislation is needed to establish industrial production of hemp, with many issues such as the uses of the hemp plant, the seed production process and uses of agricultural equipment in hemp production, to be discussed.

The retired Burlington farmer and teacher said he was interested in figuring out how to move industrial production of the crop into his region, which includes much of northwestern Oklahoma.

“Other countries are really moving forward with[cannabis production]and finding use for it,” Pedersen said Monday.

Hemp can be harvested to get the fiber from its stalk or the oil from its seeds, said agronomist Josh Bushong of the Oklahoma State University Extension Office. Many different products are made from hemp, such as textiles, home insulation, cooking ingredients, and beauty products.

Lawmakers will also specifically consider whether to raise the legal tested limit for THC levels in industrial hemp from 0.3% to a steady 1%.

Bochung said the two most worrisome environmental factors in Oklahoma — weather and high winds — can stress the cannabis plant, which some literature has said can raise cannabis THC content above the legal limit.

Bochong said farmers would then have to wipe out the entire crop, while there are no specialized crop insurance policies to cover this risk.

“It’s one of those things where you have to play that risk,” he said. “It seems to be worse in western Oklahoma, where you get more wind.”

That’s why hemp, along with marijuana, is grown in controlled environments such as greenhouses.

The two cannabis plants are often confused, Bochung said, as both produce varying levels of THC, the psychoactive ingredient responsible for the latter’s known psychoactive effect.

However, hemp also produces high levels of cannabidiol, or CBD, which is a psychoactive ingredient, which leads to the classification of cannabis as a fiber-type plant rather than a drug. CBD from the stems and flowers of hemp It can be extracted in what is known as CBD oil, which is used as a topical anti-inflammatory and antidepressant/anxiety. However, oil derived from hemp seeds does not contain CBD and a maximum of 0.3% of THC.

Until the 2018 version of the US Farm Act, hemp Labeled with marijuana It is a Class I controlled substance under the country’s Controlled Substances Act of 1970. However, growers are still allowed to grow cannabis under the supervision of the Drug Enforcement Administration.

The same year, then Gov. Mary Fallen signed up to become law Industrial hemp agricultural pilot program in Oklahoma, which allowed universities (or farmers working with universities) to grow hemp seeds for industrial purposes. The state Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry oversaw the program, and awarded it a revolving fund of various participant fees. The program became permanent a year later, while Redland Community College in El Reno started a state-accredited cannabis pilot program.

However, Pederson said he believes the new medical marijuana industry in Oklahoma has also partly ignored hemp as a viable crop, as lawmakers scrambled to deal with a state ballot measure that passed in mid-2018, shortly after federal and state changes to cannabis production.

Then, after the COVID pandemic in 2020, Pederson said, lawmakers were also unable to bring interested parties together, so the cannabis review plan again went too far.

In 2020, 3,885 acres of cannabis were licensed in Oklahoma, down from 21,635 acres in 2019, According to Vote Hempa Washington group that tracks the state of national cannabis legalization.

Bushong, with OSU Extension, said his biggest concern about industrial hemp production in Oklahoma was that there wasn’t as large a market as he had anticipated. After the state’s pilot program began, he said, the price of hemp and CBD dropped.

Bochung said he knew a man in Hennessy who invested a lot of money to extract the oil from the seeds, but the prices were too high to sustain the crop.

“Now that we have some kind of supply, we have overpriced, and now the demand is no longer that high,” Bochung said. “It’s one of those things, ‘What comes first—the crop or the market?'” “There is potential out there, but there is no current market for it.”


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