Dear Quentin: Kentucky had a history with hemp long before the recent wave of cannabis legalization. It was the country’s leading producer of hemp throughout the nineteenth century, and nearly all of the nation's hemp was grown in the state’s bluegrass region after the Civil War, according to the Kentucky Department of Agriculture.
Commercial hemp production came to a halt in the 1950s, but Kentucky’s hemp sector rose again after the passage of the Agricultural Act of 2014, which legalized hemp production for purposes of agricultural research in states that allowed it. Kentucky immediately began a research program in 2014, allowing businesses and farmers to apply for hemp-growing licenses.
Kentucky is now the fourth-leading state in industrial-hemp acreage, according to hemp advocacy organization Vote Hemp, with the state trailing only Colorado, Oregon and North Dakota. The KDA reported that around 3,200 acres of hemp were planted in Kentucky in 2017, and the agency expects that number to grow in 2018.
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