Thanks to Zoe Patchell and many other forward thinkers, Delaware Lenape tribe, famers and consumers get a big Green gift for year 2019! On Friday, December 21, the federal government officially lifted the nationwide ban on the cultivation of hemp for industrial and commercial purposes. After 81 years of prohibition, an amendment was included in the U.S. Farm bill that removed Hemp from the controlled substance list, and allows the U.S. Department of Agriculture to regulate this non-toxic plant.
What does this mean for Delaware?
Delaware Senate Bill 266, which passed nearly unanimously and was signed by Governor Carney, allows the Delaware Department of Agriculture to begin promulgating regulations to allow farmers here in Delaware to cultivate and manufacture Hemp, now that federal Hemp Prohibition has ended. Hemp legalization will be a huge economic driver for Delaware, creating significant agricultural development, especially for Kent and Sussex counties.
Delaware has a rather large pre-existing market for hemp, as hemp products are already legally sold in Delaware and can be purchased at most grocery and health food stores. (Even the Cape-May Lewes ferry sells lip balm that includes hemp as one of the main ingredients.)
Delaware has a long history with hemp; the last documented legal cultivation of hemp on Delaware soil was for animal feed. We are excited that, following the issuance of regulations from the DE Department of Agricultural, the farmers of Delaware will once again be able to cultivate, manufacture, and utilize this valuable and versatile cash crop.
Industrial hemp is used in a wide range of products including: fibers, textiles, paper, construction and insulation materials, cosmetic and hygiene products, animal feed, food, and beverages.
37 states now permit industrial hemp cultivation for either commercial or research purposes. California, Colorado, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming permit industrial hemp cultivation for commercial purposes. Hawaii, New York, North Carolina currently have commercial pilot programs, and 13 states allow hemp cultivation for educational or research purposes only.