Marijuana’s misunderstood cousin is making a comeback in Kentucky and on a local level.
In 2013, the Bluegrass State became the first to legalize hemp production. Riding on the support of U.S. Sens. Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul, along with Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, the legislation expanded a market for thousands of products produced using the crop.
One local business is joining the efforts of raising awareness and acceptance of the industrialization of hemp.
Full Circle Market is celebrating Hemp History Week through Saturday with special promotions and a movie screening at the Clark County Public Library.
The market, located at 240 Redwing Drive, sells vitamins, minerals, herbs, natural body care products, eco-friendly cleaning supplies and specialty food items. Among the merchandise sold at Full Circle are a variety of hemp products, owner Laura Sheehan said.
“We sell hemp products here at the store, and have sold hemp products since we opened (in 2001),” Sheehan said.
In its sixth year, Hemp History Week is a national campaign to educate and renew support for hemp farming in the U.S.
This year, Sheehan has taken the local campaign efforts to a new level.
“Full Circle Market has participated in Hemp History Week for the last three years,” she said. “This year as part of Hemp History Week they offered opportunities to show the movie ‘Bringing It Home’ to your community. I thought it would be a natural fit to educate people since now hemp can legally be grown in Kentucky. I thought it would be a good time to bring this movie to the community to show it so they can learn about the industrialization of hemp first-hand.”
According to the film’s website, “Bringing It Home,” filmmakers Linda Book and Blaire Johnson “animate hemp’s history and introduce us to business owners using industrial hemp for construction, textiles, nutrition and body care products in the U.S. and around the globe.”
Book and Johnson explore why hemp isn’t grown in the U.S. and expose some of the latest legislative efforts to legalize hemp production in the U.S.
The 52-minute documentary-style film will be shown for free at 7 p.m. Monday, June 8, at the Clark County Public Library, and Sheehan thinks the film will shed some much-needed light on the hemp industry.
“I think people will be interested to know that hemp is not marijuana,” she said. “Hemp is a viable crop that actually has negative carbon emissions. So it is a very green crop.”
Although hemp is a variety of cannabis and of the same variety of plant as marijuana, it has no drug value, according the Kentucky Department of Agriculture.
KDA reports hemp seed contains little to no measurable amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive ingredient in drug varieties of cannabis. THC levels for hemp are around 0.3 percent, while marijuana THC levels are 10 percent on average.
For Sheehan and most other hemp proponents, the potential financial benefits of industrialized hemp production cannot be ignored.
“We sell millions of dollars of hemp products in the U.S. from food to fiber and fuel,” she said. “But we are importing it from around 30 others countries around the world. At this point, we as Americans have an abundance of farmers and farmland. So why not be growing it ourselves? The laws prohibiting hemp are really outdated and I feel strongly if it’s something we can source locally, our store wants to do that. I think this movie teaches us that it’s time to grow (hemp) here in the U.S.”
Sheehan said she hopes Kentucky can become known for its hemp production.
“I think it’s really exciting for Kentucky to be the first state to get to grow it,” she said. “There are other states behind us that are starting to legalize hemp. But if we can one day be known as the hemp capital of the world, that would be great. I think the revenue that can be made from hemp will really help our state, and it’s wonderful timing that our state is the first to get this crop planted.”
Prior to the screening of the film, there will be informational booths and samples of hemp products available from 5 to 7 p.m. at the library. Representatives from Plowshares for Appalachia, Atalo Holdings and Kentucky Hemp Industries Association will be available to answer questions.
“I think farmers are interested, but they don’t know how to get started,” Sheehan said. “What’s the application process like? How much land do I have to have? What do I do with my plant once I harvest it? There will be people there to help answer all these questions.”
Full Circle sells body care products made with hemp oil as the moisturizing base, as well as several hemp food products.
Visitors to the store can find chocolate covered hemp hearts (seeds), hemp protein powder, granola bars with hemp, hemp milk, hemp lotion, hemp soap (bar and liquid) and even a hemp shaving cream. Hemp twine, which is popular among local gardeners, is also available, Sheehan said.
Hemp is high in Omega 3, and is a good source of protein and fiber, she said.
As part of her Hemp History Week celebration, Sheehan will offer samples, special promotions and prize giveaways.
For more information about Hemp History Week, visit hemphistoryweek.com.
For questions about Full Circle Market products, Hemp History Week promotions or the movie screening, call Sheehan at 744-3008.
Contact Whitney Leggett at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @whitneyleggett.