Farmers ask for state support in allowing hemp production
Norwich — Nearly 50 farmers, local and state officials and other supporters of industrial hemp production in Connecticut stood in the rain at the banks of the Thames River on Tuesday and heard mixed views on how easy or difficult it would be to create a hemp industry in the state.
Jeff Wentzel of Niantic, a member of the Connecticut Hemp Association, said he already grows and harvests industrial hemp in several Northeast states, and said Connecticut is the only state in the region where the crop is totally illegal.
Asked how he transports the materials, given the federal designation of all cannabis plants as a controlled substance, Wentzel replied: “In a truck.” Wentzel’s crops produce CBD hemp oil, a legal product already sold in Connecticut and elsewhere for pain relief, anxiety and other uses.
Industrial hemp, a strong fiber plant that contains just a fraction of the psychoactive ingredient THC in marijuana, can be used for everything from clothing, rope, as a composite material to construct buildings and automobile parts, and as an animal feed, or flour for human consumption.
Matt Beaudoin, owner of Mystic Knotworks, a natural-fiber knot-tying and rope-weaving company, said there are no good sources of industrial hemp rope anywhere in the world, and he welcomed potential local sources.
Karen Williams of Groton said she is a retired medical care provider and started researching hemp to find an alternative to highly addictive opioid prescriptions for pain. She tried to get Tuesday’s participants to visualize the difference between marijuana and industrial hemp.
“It’s like a bicycle versus a Harley-Davidson,” Williams said, with marijuana being the Harley.
With growing political support nationally led by congressional leaders from large farm states, such as U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, the U.S. Department of Justice and the Drug Enforcement Administration have agreed not