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Farmers gather in Lancaster County to learn more about Hemp

EAST EARL TOWNSHIP, Lancaster County, Pa. --- A standing room only crowd packed into a ballroom Thursday evening at Shady Maple Smorgasbord.

The serving: an education on hemp.

Experts say the crop serves a number of purposes, including but not limited to medicinal oils to fibers that serve as paper or building material alternatives.

Hemp is in the same plant family as marijuana, cannabis sativa.

However, Hemp has significantly less THC, or the psychoactive component of marijuana.

Former professional cyclist and Lancaster County native Floyd Landis owns a CBD product store, Floyd's of Leadville.

CBD being a cannabinoid medical product that can be made through Hemp.

He, along with business partners and pilot testing growers, hosted the informational meeting.

He said their goal was to educate farmers on different types of hemp, how it relates to marijuana, and the regulations around it.

“It’s not very simple but it takes some hands on experience to know what to look for so we’re going to try and give them guidance along the way and be available for that," said Landis.

Jerry Walker, a crop farmer of Glenn Rock, York County, said he came Thursday to simply get a better picture of what Hemp is and whether it's worth growing.

“Right now, all we’re hearing is bits and pieces that are probably some hear-say, some rumors so I’m hoping to come here and get a few facts just to maybe never pursue it no more or maybe to see if it has some interest," said Walker.

Hugh Sladen, also of Glenn Rock, said he wanted to get a better understanding of how others grow different types of Hemp.

“How they’re going to cultivate, how they’re going to pick it, how they’re going to dry it, so processing and what they’re going to do with it afterwards, how they’re going to utilize the different parts of it, the CBD and the fiber and different things like that," said Sladen.

Matt Shock, a blacksmith and cattle rancher in Lower Windsor Township, York County, said he wants to learn more about the growing techniques as a viable revenue stream.

He believes Hemp is an up-and-coming product that will have a market, particularly with medicinal products.

“There’s not quite as many people looking to grow the high CBD hemp which...you can’t just plant it, just can’t throw it out in the field and let it grow and expect to harvest it. It’s a lot more labor intensive, its a whole lot more work. But if you put in the work, put in the hours, there’s a good profit to be made from it," said Shock.

Acquiring a Hemp growing license in Pennsylvania carries a number of requirements, including a FBI background check and a minimum fee of $600.

More information can be found through the state Department of Agriculture here.

Growing Hemp was banned in the United States for several decades, as it was classified similarly to marijuana.

Up until this year, growing Hemp required a research purpose.

The 2018 U.S. Farm Bill opened the door for the growing of industrial hemp across the country.

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