Hemp Industry Farmers Grow Crop in War Against Coronavirus.

With the recent novel coronavirus impacting all aspects of life around the globe in 2020, Miami New Times opines that Florida is uniquely positioned to become a major player in the hemp industry.

Before it ends, the coronavirus crisis described by the U.S. government as “our Pearl Harbor moment” will likely kill hundreds of thousands of Americans while the nation sinks further into recession, if not a full-blown depression…

Stimulus money might help, but what the United States really needs is a self-sustaining, homegrown commodity that would benefit everyone, from the agricultural farmer to the medical patient, as well as all the clerks and customers in between — not to mention the hospitals and clinics experiencing severe shortages of gloves, facemasks, and gowns.

That commodity would be hemp, a powerhouse of a plant that until recently had been criminalized by the federal government because it is a cannabis derivative, although it does not contain enough THC to get a person high. Legalized at the federal level with the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp is expected to become a billion-dollar industry in Florida and has the potential to be a godsend for multigenerational farmers who have suffered economically since the signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in the 1990s.

Florida, in fact, is the only state where hemp can be grown year-round. During the summer, farmers can grow industrial hemp for its fiber, and in winter, they can produce CBD-rich hemp.

“The rest of the United States can only produce 70 percent of what we can produce in Florida,” says Glenn Whitworth of Whitworth Farms in Boynton Beach. “We can get four harvests a year when other places are lucky to get two, maybe three.”
“The only thing that is going to keep farmers alive is possibly hemp.”

Whitworth Farms once boasted the freshest tomatoes in the region but went out of business after it was unable to keep up with cheaper imports from Mexico. Today it is back in operation as a hemp farm through a partnership with Green Point Research, a Florida biotech company that sells bulk cannabinoid extracts to other companies for use in their products…

“The economy needs to change in a way that’s resilient,” says David Hasenauer, CEO of Green Point Research. “We need to get back to the idea of localization. And that’s where hemp really benefits as a feedstock for all these manufacturing components, whether it’s packaging, 3D printing, or making masks and ventilators.”…

Hasenauer, the CEO of Green Point Research, hopes the federal government will recognize hemp as an essential commodity as it did during World War II.

“It’s the same concept, except we are fighting the virus instead of the Nazis,” he says. “There will be more viruses and more issues that we have to deal with as a human race, and we need as many alternative therapies as possible. And we need localized manufacturing of all those things.”

Hemp is a superfood, rich in protein, fiber, and healthy fats. It is also rich in non-psychoactive cannabinoids, including CBD. Hemp can be grown for its industrial fiber, which has served humanity for tens of thousands of years. It can even be turned into toilet paper.

In 1942, less than a year after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in a raid that sent the United States into World War II, the nation was facing shortages of fiber, so the federal government encouraged farmers in Kentucky and Wisconsin to grow hemp to be used in ropes, parachutes, and uniforms. The government even produced the propaganda film Hemp for Victory, which shows how hemp can be turned into fiber.

Read the full article here: https://www.miaminewtimes.com/marijuana/hemp-industry-farmers-grow-crop-in-war-against-coronavirus-11619907.