Illinois, Iowa farmers betting on the future of hemp

marijuana plants

Students at Muscatine Community College had their crop delayed.

It wasn’t rain, but a campus shutdown of one week because of COVID-19 that caused a delay planting their hemp crop. The difference in the weather in that lost week will likely affect the crop’s yield.

“That just teaches the students why timing is so critical, and they’ll know that on the first day of class they’ve got to start everything,” said Shane Mairet, the college's industrial hemp instructor.


Heartbreak For Some Iowa Hemp Farmers

Marijuana leaves

Regulatory hurdles, backbreaking work and an uncertain market. Top that off with then having your crop destroyed and it was a really crappy season for some hemp farmers in the US state of Iowa.

The Des Moines Register reported last week reported approximately 13% of Iowa farmers’ hemp crops had to be fully or partially destroyed because the plants were “hot” – THC levels exceeded 0.3%, the maximum level permitted under state and federal laws.


Iowa's medical marijuana program loses one-third of patients during coronavirus pandemic

The number of patients in Iowa’s medical marijuana program fell by one-third during the COVID-19 pandemic because patients couldn’t see their doctors or go to driver’s license centers to get cannabidiol registration cards, officials said.

Iowa averaged about 360 patients per month in its medical marijuana program between June 2019 and March, when Gov. Kim Reynolds asked Iowans to stay home to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus, Owen Parker, program manager told the Iowa Medical Cannabidiol Board Friday.

Patient numbers averaged 244 per month for April, May and June so far, he said.


New Iowa law to help state comply with federal hemp guidelines

The governor has signed a bill into law that makes it clear “smoke-able” hemp is illegal in Iowa and hemp cannot be fed to animals.

The legislation is an update to a 2019 law that legalized the growing of industrial hemp in Iowa. Representative Ross Paustian, a Republican from Walcott, said the State of Iowa is still awaiting USDA approval before Iowa farmers can start growing hemp.

“This bill helps us to comply with some federal requirements,” Paustian said. “The bill also allows for the manufacture, sale and transportation of hemp products if they contain no more than 0.3% of THC.”

Representative Bob Kressig, a Democrat from Cedar Falls, said even though some of the requirements for growing hemp are pretty strict, the bill sets Iowa in the right direction.


Iowa Down To One Medical CBD Manufacturer Due To COVID-19 Pandemic

Medical cannabidiol patients in Iowa now have only one company’s products to choose from as the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic forces the state’s only other licensed CBD manufacturer to shutter its operations.

At the end of March, Have A Heart Compassionate Care announced that it was closing the medical CBD dispensaries it operated in Council Bluffs and Davenport. That was followed by an announcement in early April from New York-based Acreage Holdings that it was temporarily closing several cannabis facilities including its Iowa Relief wholesale plant in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Kevin Murphy, the chairman and CEO of Acreage, said in a press release at the time that the measures were being taken due to the coronavirus crisis.


Iowa State Senate Advances Medical Marijuana Reform Bill

Iowa lawmakers passed a bill this week to tweak the state’s medical marijuana program, and now the measure now awaits the governor’s signature.


Iowa issuing hemp licenses and seed permits


Hemp now can be grown in Iowa - but what's next?

It’s now legal to grow hemp in Iowa. What to do with the crop remains an open question.

“I’ve gotten phone calls and inquiries about potentially growing hemp,” Rebecca Vittetoe, Iowa State University Extension field agronomist based in Washington, Iowa, wrote in an email. “However, the biggest drawback or hang-up right now is the lack of markets. If we grow it, what do we do with it?”

“It’s nothing like a year ago,” said Angie Rieck-Hinz, an Extension field specialist in charge of its hemp production program. “In January and February of 2019 my phone was ringing off the hook. Right now I couldn’t tell you when I’ve last had a hemp phone call.”


2 Of Iowa’s 5 Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Have Closed

Medical marijuana dispensaries have closed in Council Bluffs and Davenport, Iowa health officials said.

The disclosure Monday by the Iowa Public Health Department said patients and caregivers still may purchase the cannabidiol products at Iowa’s three other licensed outlets, in Sioux City, Waterloo and in the Des Moines suburb of Windsor Heights.

It’s not clear why the two dispensaries were closed. Their operators, Have A Heart Compassionate Care, didn’t immediately return messages Wednesday from The Associated Press.


USDA Approves Iowa Hemp Plan

Iowa is good to go with the feds after the USDA recently approved its state plan under the USA’s domestic hemp production program.

“We know farmers are eager for new opportunities and this milestone means they are one step closer to being able to grow hemp during the 2020 growing season,” said Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig recently.

The plan was approved on the 20th of this month, but farmers keen to get cracking will need to wait a while longer before applying for licences.


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