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Michigan hemp industry meeting setting stage for 2020 crop

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Steve Carmody
/
Michigan Radio

More than a thousand people are expected to attend a conference about hemp this weekend in Lansing.

Last year, more than 500 farmers took part in Michigan’s first legal hemp crop in decades. The results were mixed.

“In 2019, it was more of a 'Ready, Fire, Aim' program,” says Dave Crabill, an organizer of this weekend’s Hemp Expo at the Lansing Center. “This year, we want to be more prepared with the right genetics, the right equipment, the right nutrients, so we have a successful harvest.”

In 2018, the U.S. Congress lifted a pre-World War II restriction that made it illegal for farmers to grow industrial hemp—a variety of the cannabis sativa plant that contains less than .3% THC.

Most hemp farmers grow their crop in order to harvest its highly-valuable cannabidiol, or CBD oil. That oil is stored in the hemp plant’s flower, and extracting it is an “extremely labor intensive” process. Hemp fiber can also be used to create textiles.

Crabill says Michigan’s hemp industry has a lot of room to grow. 

“Those that were successful are doubling down or scaling up… to a greater degree putting in a lot more acreage,” says Crabill. “You’re going to see some clear winners come out and over time. There’s a lot of opportunity for people to get into the industry.”

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