It’s a crop that wasn’t even legal a year ago but today hemp appears to be a large part of Connecticut’s agricultural future.
Wallingford’s The Remedy has been selling hemp and CBD oil products since opening its doors in April.
“Things have been exponentially increasing. I mean CBD is a real buzz right now,” said owner Alexander Angeloff.
CBD is short for cannabidiol, a non-intoxicating chemical compound found in the cannabis plant and industrial hemp plants, which are now legal to grow in Connecticut.
Town Farm, in Ledyard is one 67 Connecticut farms so far to acquire a hemp growing license. Owner Dylan Williams, who has a plant science degree from UConn, has converted his farm from organic vegetables to hemp this season.
“I think we’re still trying to navigate the hemp industry and trying how to figure out and understand what’s best to grow and how to grow it,” said Williams.
State Senator Cathy Osten (D-19th District) backed legislation to legalize hemp, and toured Town Farm today to learn more about an industry she sees having a bright future in Connecticut.
“Thousands of products can be made out of the different pieces of hemp plant,” she explained, “It’s a billion dollar industry.”
According to New Frontier Data, the Hemp Industry generated 1.1 billion dollars in 2018 and is estimated to double by 2022. Osten sees this as an opportunity and says the annual impact on Connecticut’s economy could be significant.
“Once we get moving here on both production and growing. I think we can be at a half-billion dollars (a year) or more,” she said.
Connecticut farmers are getting on board.
“The numbers are real. You see it out in Colorado and the West Coast. They’re making a lot of money from this stuff,” said Williams.
The cost of getting into this business though is not cheap. Among the biggest expenses are the seeds themselves which can cost $1 per seed.
Williams says he’s planted 4000 plants per acre. Something he estimates could yield 1000 to 1500 dry bio mass pounds that can be extracted into CBD oil.
“The value for something like that can be 30 to 40 thousand dollars an acre,” said Williams.
While CBD oils and creams may be the most well-known hemp products the usage is much broader. Hemp has many uses including textiles, clothing and medicinal purposes, prompting Osten to call for a broader use of the hemp harvest.
“I’d like to see us use the whole plant from the stem all the way up to the flower at the top,” said Osten.
One obstacle facing hemp retailers and growers is public perception. It’s often confused with marijuana.
“It’s a cousin to marijuana but it is a different plant,” Osten says. “It only has .3 percent or less of THC so it has no consequences.”
THC is the psychoactive component of marijuana, which gets you high. By both federal and state law hemp cannot contain more than 0.3 percent THC on a dry weight basis. Osten says this will be closely monitored by the department of agriculture.
“If it has a higher THC value they’ll require the product be destroyed,” she said.