Industrial Hemp Update by Dr. Eric Walker

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June 4-10, 2018, is Hemp History Week. Along with tobacco and a few specialty crops, Dr. Eric Walker  works with industrial hemp, or hemp. Here are a few things that may be helpful for those who may be interested in learning more about hemp and its products:

– Although sometimes incorrectly perceived as the same, hemp is not marijuana. While hemp is Cannabis sativa (L.), it cannot make one high or buzzed because, by federal and state law, it must contain less than 0.3% THC on a dry weight basis.

– Hemp is legal to grow and process in TN if the grower or processor is licensed by the TN Department of Agriculture.

– Strictly hemp-derived products, such as hemp seed or hearts, greens, and other food products, and hemp-derived CBD oils, capsules, and other edibles, cannot make anyone high.

– Hemp and it’s products are legal in TN according to state law, but they may not be legal in other states. Also, there are some differences of opinion and interpretation regarding CBD and cannabinoid products and the Federal Controlled Substances Act.

– Increasing numbers of people are experiencing pain relief and other benefits from CBD products. Reported health benefits in some people include the treatment of inflammation, seizures, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), multiple sclerosis (MS), Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Huntington’s diseases, and other conditions. It is important that one consult with a physician or pharmacist prior to ingesting CBD products because CBD can interact with some medications.

– While the actual likelihood is currently unknown, CBD products containing trace amounts of THC have been reported to cause drug test failure. Drug test results could be influenced by products that contain THC, depending on dosage, frequency, duration, individual differences in body chemistry and metabolism, and testing methods.

There’s so much information out there now from so many different sources that it’s hard to tell what is accurate and what is not. The following are good places to start:

The University of Tennessee, Tennessee State University, Middle Tennesee State University, the University of Kentucky, Murray State University, and Western Kentucky University are currently working with hemp, and there are others across the country.

The Tennessee Department of Agriculture is doing an excellent job administering the Tennessee Industrial Hemp Agricultural Pilot Program, and they have a great website at:

The Tennessee Hemp Industries Association and the Hemp Industries Association have been extremely helpful in learning about the crop and connecting with others interested and experienced in its production and processing.

This post started with the mention of Hemp History Week. This campaign has been extremely helpful, active, and effective with its educational efforts.

Posted for Dr. Eric Walker, UT Tobacco and Specialty Crops specialist;


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