Hemp is Marijuana, right? Nope. While is is a kind of Cannabis, it contains none of the THC that makes its cousin a controlled substance in much of the US. This is an instance of one responsible sibling being lumped in with their wayward brother. In fact, you certainly have interacted with hemp at some point in your day already- it is in your car interior, possibly your breakfast cereal, and almost certainly textiles or other materials you have come in contact with. However, the hemp you interacted with today was grown elsewhere and imported - because it is still a "schedule 1" drug like marijuana and cocaine. The Farm Bill along with the rolling back of regulations by many states seeks to take this hard-working crop out of detention and into the field.
But is it worth the hype? Actually, yes. If you remember the Dr. Seuss classic "The Lorax," you'll recall that the industry character, the Onceler, was describing what Truffula trees could be turned into "But it has other uses, far beyond that. You can use it for curtains, for pillows, for sheets - even the covers of bicycle seats!" Hemp is a similarly useful crop as the whole plant can be used for different purposes, including stalks that when processed become the strongest natural fiber.
The Dr. Seuss pitch would sound more like: "You can use it for medicine, milk and rope, It can be paper, plastics, food, and soap!"
I thought it was already legal in Maryland? Yes, with many caveats. The bill that passed, like others in other states, has paved the way for farmers to grow hemp in a research capacity in close partnership with an academic institution. We were proud to to support this successful first step and local growers will benefit from this much needed expertise being built with a new crop but the economic benefits of this crop will only be realized once the stigma and federal classification is removed - as the Farm Bill will do.