Harvesting season is underway at hemp farms in Central Oregon, as the plant has quickly become one of the popular crops around the state.
Last year’s federal Farm Bill removed hemp from the government’s controlled drug category. Since then, farmers across the country and the High Desert have begun growing it themselves.
That’s mostly because hemp is a high-return crop. Hemp has also become popular because of its various uses. It can be used to make commercial and industrial products like biofuel, bioplastics , clothing and paper.
According to Prineville’s Phase 2 Extraction CEO, Brett Stokes, part of the reason it’s seen such a boom in Central Oregon is because of the climate here.
” If weather works out here, which it tends to, it’s a very dry climate, ” Stokes said Thursday. ” A lot of farmers can do field drying and get the same results they need, and they touch the plant less, which allows us to retain a lot of the oil and trichomes and things you want to extract from the hemp. ”
At Phase 2 Extraction, cannabidiol and hemp oil will be extracted through seven different stages. Phase 2 Extractions oils have been sold throughout Oregon and nationwide. Those oils will be used in CBD-based drinks, gels and lotions.
Because hemp is so new to the market, the rules and regulations are not as fine-tuned as those for other crops. Crook County Judge Seth Crawford is calling the hemp industry a unique situation.
“It’s really new, and as always in Crook County we are business-friendly, and we are going to work and move as fast as we can,” Crawford said. ” But this is kind of a unique situation because it’s like the Wild West, because no one has done it before. ”
Stokes said that as more people become educated on hemp, the industry will continue to grow.
“I’d say there was a big stigma for groups that would no way go near anything cannabis, because they think of THC, or they think of marijuana,” Stokes said. ” With more education, we are starting to see more people that had that stigma are starting to say, ‘Hey, I give it to my pets and I use it for my back pain.’ ”
Stokes compared the effectiveness and popularity of CBD to aspirin.