The number of hemp cultivation licenses issued in Tennessee are up 1,100 percent over last year, according to a Tennessean report. For this year, the state Department of Agriculture has issued more than 2,600 licenses, most of which are for farms of fewer than five acres.
In 2015, there were just 44 hemp growers licensed under the state’s pilot program; 64 in 2016; 117 in 2017; and 226 last year when 4,700 acres of hemp were grown in the Volunteer State. This year, five farms are licensed to grow more than 1,000 acres and 37 are licensed to grow 100 acres or more.
Bill Corbin, a licensed farmer in Springfield, called the crop “a new gold rush” but cautioned “that’s not really a good thing.”
“When that many people come into play so quickly, there are so many naive and gullible growers that are going to sign up with people who will promise them the moon,” he told the Tennessean.
Although hemp was legalized federally last year, Tennessee is still operating under a pilot program while federal agencies adopt rules and regulations for the industry. The Food and Drug Administration plans to hold its own public hearing next month on CBD – the demand for which is partly behind the spike in hemp license figures in Tennessee, according to the report.
According to March figures from Kentucky’s Agriculture Department, hemp sales in Tennessee’s northern neighbor jumped from $17 million to $58 million from 2017-2018.
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