Nebraska hemp farmers could see reduced regulations

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – Hemp has been a growing market in Nebraska since it was legalized about four years ago, and the rules and restrictions on how it’s grown could be changing soon.

Introduced by the Agriculture Committee, the Nebraska Hemp Farming Act (LB 263) would alter some regulations on hemp farming.

It was introduced at the Nebraska Department of Agriculture’s request so that state rules align with federal law.

Right now, to legally grow hemp, you must go through a process to gain a permit, as well as having your product tested to make sure it meets state standards.

David Sanders, a farmer near Dwight, Nebraska, said the current hemp regulations make it one of the more difficult crops to cultivate.

He said he’s in favor of streamlining the process and expanding the growth of hemp around the state.

“If they could give us a little more leeway, you know, nobody is looking to grow anything illegal,” Sanders said. “I know a lot of the guys that grow hemp, and they just want to get a good hemp product and get the most out of it they can. But I understand the state’s side of it as well.”

He said after he retired from nursing, he decided to start a hemp farm, Bohemian Hills CBD, which he’s been running for a few years now.

SEE ALSO: Winnebago Tribe selected as one of the first farms to grow hemp

Compared with other crops, Sanders said hemp is very difficult because of factors like weather and the timing of the harvest.

He said “it’s a constant juggle” to time the harvest so that there is a lot of CBD but low amounts of THC.

Sanders said part of the risk in growing hemp is that if the product exceeds the limit of 0.3% THC concentration, by law, it has to be destroyed.

“The state will notify you that your tests came back too high, you didn’t pass; they’ll set up a time to come out and destroy and witness,” he said. “You can lose hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

Sanders also sells recipes and teaches classes about the world of hemp and how to do your own processing.

While cannabis and hemp look nearly identical, he says they are different types of plants with different levels of potency.

Cannabis has higher levels of THC and is used to make delta 8, 9 and 10 products.

“Delta 8 is what they’re selling in Lincoln, and they kind of refer to that as ‘soft pot,’ like a low-alcohol beer,” Sanders said.

He said that while delta 8 it is available and legal to be sold in Nebraska, he would rather grow hemp because of its versatility and profitability.

Some of the products he makes include CBD oils, skin care products, bath bombs and even dog biscuits.

“I hope it replaces a lot of wood products, a lot of products that we’re using corn and oil for,” Sanders said.

But he said he’s “not looking to replace corn.”

“I’ll tell you, those corners where you can’t really plant much, you could put in a half-acre of hemp, and you could realize a very good profit,” he said.

The committee hearing for LB 263 will be held on Tuesday at the Capitol.

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