Industrial Hemp Farming Returns To Michigan; Fall Harvest 1st Since WWII

hemp farming
Photo credit FILE (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

(WWJ) Thanks to changes in state and federal laws, Michigan farmers are growing industrial hemp for the first time since World War II.

Dave Crabill, Communications Director with the trade organization I-Hemp of Michigan, says around 550 farmers expect to harvest about 20,000 acres of the plant this fall; mostly for use in CBD products. 

He told WWJ Newsradio 950's Rob St. Mary that the CBD market offers big opportunities in Michigan as other crops have lost value. 

"If every person consumed a small amount of CBD every day, that market is sustainably larger than the medical marijuana market."

But, beyond the health supplements, Crabill said the plant and its stalks can be used for food, textile fibers and even plastics. 

"We're working with a company in Grand Rapids that is manufacturing milling equipment," he said. "They can mill that stalk dry enough and fine enough to be used in injection molded plastics."

In wartime, Crabill said, industrial hemp was grown for its fibers to make rope, military uniforms and sails. 

CBD, or cannabidiol, is a derivative of the cannabis plant said to treat pain, relieve anxiety and help you sleep -- without the psychoactive effects that come from the THC in marijuana. While CBD is already being sold in Michigan in sprays, oils, gummy bears, bottled water and other products, experts say the jury is still out as to whether it works. According to the Mayo Clinic, further research is needed to determine CBD's other benefits and safety.

For those looking to learn more about the business, I-Hemp will hold a Midwest Industrial Hemp Expo in Lansing this January.  This event will offer two days of information-packed sessions with speakers who are knowledgeable and passionate about hemp.