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Hemp and Cannabis in Today’s Agriculture

Last week Brad and Brenda Chandler had the opportunity to take a class hosted by Missouri REALTORS® Land Institute (RLI). They learned about Industrial Hemp and its Impacts on Real Estate from Kirk Goble.  Mr. Globe is the owner/broker of The Bell 5 Land Company and gave a detailed presentation on the history of cannabis in the U.S., how hemp will affect agriculture, and the investment opportunities for the hemp industry.
Hemp or Cannabis has been around for hundreds of years – it has been found in items such as clothing, ropes, and paper dating back to 8,000 BCE. Very forward-thinking historical figures saw the value in hemp and used it in many different products.
  • Early drafts of The Declaration of Independence were found on hemp paper.
  • The oil from the hemp seed was used in household lamps in 1840 by Abraham Lincoln.
  • Henry Ford built an experimental car body made with hemp fiber, and the fiber was found to be ten times stronger than steel. He also used Hemp Ethanol to power the auto.

Unfortunately, according to Mr. Goble, the hemp industry back in the mid-1930s was suppressed in the media by the influencers of that time which included William Randolph Hearst and the DuPont family.  William Hearst owned one of the largest newspapers in the country as well as huge forests of pulp trees used for making paper.  The DuPont family was involved in the chemical and textile business in the 1930s. They knew of hemp’s potential and how it could affect their profits in both industries, so they used their influence to lobby against its usage. Because of their spin on the maddening qualities of marijuana, they were able to pressure politicians to make hemp illegal in the US in 1937.  Although it is still used in other parts of the world for industrial purposes, hemp, for the most part, was replaced by plastic, cotton, fossil fuels, and other profitable products.  As the damage to the Earth has reached crisis proportions, however, the race is on to produce sustainable alternatives.Although hemp is classified as a weed, every part of the plant can be used.  Other interesting facts about the hemp plant include the ability to grow prolifically with little water and no pesticides, takes up relatively little space to grow, produces more pulp per acre than trees, and is biodegradable. Hemp crops also give back to the environment by returning nutrients to the soil and sequestering carbon dioxide.  In addition, it can be used for soil restoration as it soaks up the metals from the soil.   Hemp can grow basically where corn is grown, but the farmer will want to test the soil if the product is being grown for ingestion.    Also, there are a lot of different kinds of cannabis/hemp plants, and they can cross-pollinate easily.  Therefore, growers will not want to have fields of different varieties near each other.

While Federal laws have been slow to change, Marijuana laws across all 50 states are changing at a rapid pace, making things a bit confusing at times. “In order to keep up with the ever-changing laws, DISA has provided this interactive map for information on legalization, medical use, recreational use, and anything in-between” it can be found at –  https://disa.com/map-of-marijuana-legality-by-state   According to some experts, changing these laws will also give relief within our overcrowded prison system; the question remains, however, if it will change for those who have been charged under the old laws.

With federal government slow to change the hemp/cannabis laws, the business is still primarily a cash business.  Believe it or not, this does not make things easy for business owners and employees. There is the concern that if the money is put in the bank then the FEDs could seize the money.  Also, there are banks that do not want anything to do with the money made from Hemp/Cannabis, which makes the purchase of real estate for such production difficult since all the money has to be wired in due to federal rules. It is our understanding that there are some banks that are starting to work with the people in this business, but not many.  Times are changing, however, and people are figuring out how to get things done.   We know before long the federal government will have to catch up with the laws of the states (which seems backward).  In the meantime, states like Colorado and Washington have passed state laws and implemented public education, for other states to follow, just like Illinois this year.
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