MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (OSBORNE) -- The number of Tennessee farmers seeking a license to grow hemp is exploding.
The state Department of Agriculture reports it’s ssued nearly 2800 hemp production permits this year, with still more applications in the pipeline. That’s ten times the number of licenses issued in 2018.
Hemp’s introduction hasn’t been without complications. There have been persistent reports of police mistaking hemp products for marijuana. There have also been reports of hemp supplement users failing workplace drug tests.
A lawsuit is pending against several Rutherford County agencies over a 2018 police raid targeting hemp products for personal consumption. Officials padlocked 19 convenience stores wrongly assuming hemp items they sold were illegal.
In spite of those hiccups, Middle Tennessee State Center for Botanical Medicine Research Director Elliot Altman says Tennessee leads the country on hemp adoption.
“I think Tennessee is one of the top two states in the nation as far as getting it right in having all the required parts and places to truly make us a hemp state.”
Republican State Lawmaker Jay Reedy is a hemp farmer and has hemp related bills pending in the State Legislature. He notes that Volkswagen is now using plant fiber to produce car parts. He believes Tennessee hemp can meet that demand.
“The panels, the dashes, the headliners all that stuff in their cars that require a petroleum based plastic, well you can get the same thing out of industrial hemp. We could fulfill that need.”
Would you like to visit the Tennessee Department of Agriculture hemp informational website? Use the link below to listen to the complete interview with MTSU Centr for Botanical Medicine Research Director Dr. Elliot Altman.