Members of the Vermont business community have announced a $250,000 investment in the state’s fledgling hemp industry. The is a bold act in defiance of federal prohibition and another step toward effectively nullifying the federal government’s  ban on industrial hemp.

Vermont’s NPR reports:

A group of investors that includes two prominent Vermont businessmen has reached a tentative agreement to back a hemp farm in Hardwick that is producing pills with a high concentration of a substance claimed to be effective in blocking seizures in epileptics.

The substance — called CBD, or cannabidiol — is also used to treat arthritis symptoms. Although the Food and Drug Administration has forbidden nutritional supplement manufacturers from making health claims about CBD, the Vermont investors hope to tap a burgeoning market for the product.

….. With the $250,000 investment from Evergreen the Hardwick hemp farm will double the acreage of its next crop, expand its greenhouse and processing capacity and hire more workers. Green Mountain CBD sells directly to consumers and Bergad says its customers include parents who have been giving CBD to their autistic children.

The hemp farm is owned by a Alejandro Bergad, who was previously involved in the Colorado hemp industry.

In 2013, the Vermont legislature passed a law legalizing and licensing hemp production at the state level. When Gov. Peter Shumlin signed the Vermont hemp bill, he emphasized that cultivation was still illegal under federal law.

“Although the growing of hemp will now be legal under Vermont law, it remains subject to federal anti-drug statutes. That means that farmers who choose to grow hemp do so at their own risk and need to be aware of the possible consequences”

The minimal possibility of federal prosecution has not stopped some growers from taking advantage of the opportunities they see with the door now cracked open to develop a hemp market in the state.

The comparatively small financial investment provided to Bergad’s farm may seem trivial to some being involved in trading and able to check out MBoxWave to see some real figures, but it will pave the way for the industry to expand. The funding must be placed within a broader context. The federal prohibits all of this activity. By funding efforts to grow hemp, Vermont businessmen have added credibility to an industry that has not been fully accepted yet. And as more growers take advantage of the economic opportunities available and the possible funding at their disposal, they too will add it to their cash crops. The larger the market grows, the less likely the feds will try to put a stop to it. Federal inaction will only encourage others to participate.

Other New England states are also defying federal prohibition. A Maine grower recently planted the state’s first hemp acre of hemp in Monmouth after obtaining the seed from a food bank in Colorado. Last summer, the Maine legislature overrode a Gov. LePage’s veto to authorize hemp farming in the state regardless of what the feds have to say about it.

The Vermont investment is an encouraging sign that businessmen believe hemp farming is here to stay. Ideally, this will lead to the nullification of other federal drug laws in Vermont and other states, as well.

TJ Martinell

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