Kentucky may just get the industrial revolution it was hoping for from hemp.
So far, the state has seen 22 companies throw money into industrial hemp cultivation and processing, fueling hopes that the plant will rejuvenate Kentucky’s lagging agricultural economy.
One company, GenCanna, has even pumped $5 million into a 100-acre grow site for industrial hemp and is hoping to grow yield a high-CBD strain. The company has also taken over a formerly abandoned tobacco office building for its headquarters, a symbolic move that underscores how hemp could offset losses tied to the ailing tobacco industry.
Industrial hemp production only really got going in Kentucky in 2013 under a pilot program. Since then, production levels have grown exponentially, from 33 acres in 2014 to more than 1,700 this year.
Kentucky is accepting applications through Nov. 5 from farmers and companies that want to participate in the hemp program next year, according to the Associated Press. Of the 326 applications it received last year, the state approved 121.