Steve Sakal might be just a few months away from growing marijuana at his farm.
The fight for making industrial hemp an agricultural commodity in the U.S. is moving forward with the revisions being made to the Farm Bill. Now that the farming community is hopeful that the changes will push through, many individuals are already moving towards the production of industrial hemp.
One example is Mana Artisan Botanics, which is headed by its CEO and co-founder Steve Sakala, a hemp activist based in Hawaii. The company creates therapeutic oils using high-cannabidiol (CBD) volume hemp from Colorado. While business is good for Sakala and Mana Artisan Botanics, a way to produce hemp locally would help boost the company even further.
Sakala says that he wants to integrate his passion for the wellness benefits of cannabis with his sustainable agricultural methods. He adds, “I believe this is one of the primary reasons our products stand out: Not only are they good for the body, they are good for the soil and our community.”
In fact, not all of the ingredients used in the company’s products are imported. Using a former macadamia nut orchard plot of land bought in 2007, the company grows most of its ingredients there, including turmeric, comfrey, plantain and passionflower. Since then, the company has introduced more plants and trees. It has even developed sustainable practices such as solar power and rainwater reservoirs.
Sakala’s farm is likely viable for growing hemp. Industrial hemp is a strong breed of cannabis and it is able to grow in various weather conditions. It grows best in well-drained soils that are highly fertilized. Compared to marijuana, hemp is a lot easier to grow and there are more uses for it aside from extracting its oils for CBD products.
The problem for Sakala is not land availability though. As with most farmers who want to dive into hemp farming, he has to go through a lot of paperwork and licenses first.
CBD varietals to be made legal this fall
In June this year, the Hawaii Department of Agriculture launched the Industrial Hemp Pilot Program. It will issue licenses to grow industrial hemp for farmers on a quarterly basis. Since launching, the program has already given the go-signal to eight farmers in Hawaii. These farmers have around 59 acres of land for industrial hemp in total.
Not all variants of hemp are allowed yet. The currently available varietal for hemp is Yuma, which is mostly the fiber and grain. According to the Hawaii Department of Agriculture, the CBD varietals will be allowed for farming sometime this fall. Sakala is hopeful that this will eventually come but of course, he has to acquire the approval from the agency first.
There is a huge potential for industrial hemp to upend agriculture in the U.S. For now, senate is still yet to reveal the final ruling on industrial hemp but farmers are hoping that they will legalize the plant as they can make a huge profit out of it. Not only will they be able to benefit from the growing demand in hemp and CBD products, but they will also be able to find a suitable alternative crop that will meet their needs.