Every farmer in the United States should be allowed to cultivate hemp if they desire to, and that includes farmers in Kansas.
Hemp was the top cash crop in the country for 150 years after the Revolutionary War.
Unfortunately, that all changed in 1937 when hemp was banned along with all other forms of the cannabis plant.
The United States has experienced a resurgence in hemp production since 2014, which has been helping farmers in various states across the country, but not Kansas. Why is that?
What is the 2013 Farm Bill and how is it helping hemp farmers in the U.S.?
On February 7, 2014 then President Barack Obama signed the Farm Bill of 2013.
A specific section of that legislation, Section 7606, defined industrial hemp as being any part of the cannabis plant that has a THC concentration of .3 percent or less.
The section also created exemptions from federal hemp prohibition in states that have passed laws creating hemp pilot programs and/or research programs.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures 34 states have passed such laws, although not every state has issued hemp permits yet.
Why is Kansas not one of the states that allows hemp cultivation?
According to the Kansas Department of Agriculture, “Agriculture is a critical part of Kansas’ past, and it is a key economic driver in our present, but it also holds great potential for our future.”
With that in mind, why is the state of Kansas not getting on board with allowing its farmers to cultivate hemp?
Hemp has no use as a recreational substance because it is non-psychoactive. Hemp does however have a number of other uses that benefit society, from being used to make textiles to medicine.
CBD-based medicines are projected to be a billion dollar industry within the next three years, and that is just one of many opportunities that Kansas farmers could take advantage of by growing hemp.
With no downside to allowing hemp cultivation, and tremendous opportunities for Kansas’ farmers to benefit financially from a legalized hemp industry, why is the state of Kansas not allowing it to occur?
Officials keep saying ‘More research is needed’
Kansas has two pieces of active hemp legislation right now. HB 2182, which passed in Kansas’ House of Representatives by a 103 to 18 margin, would create a legal hemp industry in Kansas.
SB 263 would not legalize hemp production in Kansas, and would instead call for more hemp research to determine if the agricultural crop is a good fit for the state of Kansas.
Why is the Kansas Senate pushing for more research when the current evidence found throughout the United States is overwhelming clear – that there is no downside to allowing farmers to cultivate hemp?
Lawmakers in Kansas should be pushing for hemp production, and not just more research.
More research is not necessarily a bad thing, but it shouldn’t come at the expense of production.
Calling for ‘more research’ before allowing production is a classic prohibitionist delay tactic meant to punt the issue of reform down the road and keep the status quo in place.
It is something that has occurred in other areas of the reform movement to end all forms of cannabis prohibition in the United States, but the shelf life of such tactics is eroding rapidly.
Kansas hemp advocates push back on the delay tactic
An increasing number of hemp advocates in Kansas are calling out Senators in Kansas’ Legislature and urging them to support production legislation.
“Given the low prices for wheat, corn and soybeans, Kansas farmers desperately need a more profitable alternative. With China and Korea leading the world in hemp production, Russia now the world’s largest exporter of wheat and other nations have increased grain production, the US is no longer the world’s only agricultural superpower. Hemp provides for over 50,000 products spanning across 10 different industries.” says Chris Underwood, president of Kansans for Hemp.
“Because of low prices, farmers have to increase yields per acre to break even or make a small profit. Increased supplies of grain put downward pressure on prices, and we have a vicious economic cycle that farmers cannot escape – unless they have the economic freedom to diversify commodities and grow a more profitable crop,” he went on to say.
Clinging to the ‘we need more research’ argument carried weight in decades past for better or worse.
However, it is virtually irrelevant now given the number of states that have successfully implemented hemp production reform, as pointed out by Mr. Underwood.
“Among the thirty-four states that have passed hemp legislation includes New York state. Governor Cuomo recently earmarked over $2.6 million for a hemp processing plant and seed certification program, and wants to make New York state a national leader in hemp production.
“It is a sad day, and our ancestors would be disappointed to learn New York is more of an agricultural leader than Kansas. The Sunflower State cannot rely on the past glory of bumper wheat crops as a substitute for low grain prices and profit margins. We need to give farmers the experience and economic freedom to grow more profitable crops; and the support to survive the current ag recession.”
What people in Kansas can do to help make hemp production a reality in their state
The need for more hemp research in Kansas is unnecessary in order to pass legislation that allows for hemp production.
While Senators in Kansas drag their feet on passing hemp production legislation, Kansas’ farmers will continue to miss out on the economic opportunities that farmers in many other states are already benefiting from.
If you live in Kansas and you support your states’ farming community, do your part and urge your Senators to support hemp production.
Contact them and let them know that you support such legislation, and that there is already enough research, both in other states as well as research that was already conducted at Kansas State in the 1970s.
Also join Kansans for Hemp and support their efforts. A united voice will help push hemp production reform in Kansas over the top!