Cannabis

Humans have a long and rich history with the Cannabis plant. Many cultures and regions have utilized the psychoactive cannabis and industrial hemp plants for thousands of years. The passage of the 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp and any hemp derived products from the Controlled Substance Act, therefore opening the door for allowing farmers and entrepreneurial newcomers to benefit off of the new CBD market.

Biology

The two main species of Cannabis are Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica. Cannabis is unique due to its production of cannabinoids, such as CBD and THC. Hemp is classified as cannabis with a THC value lower than 0.3%.

Havesting

Hemp crops must be harvested at an optimal point in the flower cycle. There are no proper or correct methods in how to harvest. The hemp industry is still in its infancy, so it has not solved the efficiency dilemma with harvesting the flower and/or biomass.

Distribution

In the United States, hemp is currently legal, however in some states, cannabis with higher THC values are only utilized for medical needs. In other states, such as Colorado, high THC cannabis can also be used for recreational purposes. Hemp is made into a variety of products, from smokeable products and edibles to lotions and bath bombs.

Sustainability

Hemp cultivation is not inherently environmentally sustainable as it can still require large farming inputs like water and nutrients. Farmers must also consider the long term goals and direction of their hemp farming because the hemp market is still unstable. Therefore, growing practices must include organic and regenerative methods as it increases biodiversity, soil health, and diversifies a farm portfolio, all of which sustains the farmer financially and improves the health of the environment.

Our Work

Dr. Decarlo has worked with farmers in Utah and Vermont to determine the issues facing the Cannabis industry. The plants need specific soil content to thrive and are threatened by pests and mold. Hemp plants must be below the legal limit of THC or the crop will be destroyed. Space and adequate humidity are needed for the drying process after harvesting. All of these challenges are still being solved by the growers.

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