The Mail Tribune interviewed Chris Bourne, medicinal hemp farmer just outside Ashland. Chris Bourne says motorists passing by the fields of flowering hemp can’t believe their eyes!
The plants stand 2 to 4 feet tall covering 30 acres of sloping foothills. The sight is enough to make any recreational cannabis user drool. Little do they know these plants contain almost no tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the compound that produces the infamous high that gave all marijuana the schedule 1 sentence of life-long suspicion and stigma. In Oregon the maximum limit of THC is 0.3 percent in hemp plants produced for medicinal purposes.
These cannabis plants are grown specifically for the cannabidiol, or CBD oil used as medicine for many ailments such as Parkinson’s disease and for relief from pain and seizures.
Hemp is classified as marijuana
The field of 35,000 hemp plants was approved by the Oregon Department of Agriculture, in compliance with specifications for hemp operations. The oil obtained from the plants will be sold to research projects nationwide to be used in clinical trials to determine its effectiveness in managing ailments.
Ron Pence from the Oregon Department of Agriculture, said hemp operations are becoming more common, and 80 – 90 % is grown to extract CBD oil. Most farms are growing organic crops, and the biggest operation he knows of in the state is 75 acres near Salem.
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It looks like it, it smells like it, but…
The hemp plants are big and very bushy, covered in flowers or “heads”. “It looks like marijuana, it smells like marijuana….” but it won’t make you stoned.
The sight was just too tempting to some passers-by who decided to steal some plants. Remnants were left on the ground, and Bourne reported the theft. He said they would have to step up security, as those plants were intended as medicine to someone suffering from Parkinson’s disease, or some other illness.
Bourne and his partners planted 75,000 plants in July, which is late season, and this resulted in the shorter, bushy plants. Half of the plants were male, and had to be pulled out. This was a big job as the plants cover 34 miles in rows.
Truly sustainable practice
Next year they plan to grow other plants to deter bugs, and create biodiversity as they use no pesticides or fertilizers. In winter, they plan to plant a cover crop to fix the nitrogen levels in the soil. Bourne and his partners hope to have 500 to 1,000 acres of hemp growing in Southern Oregon by next year. He was not ready to disclose the location yet.
Medicinal use for cannabis oil
To see hemp being farmed for the medicinal uses of cannabis oil is a sign of great progress being made. For the crop to be utilized to determine efficacy and dosage is even greater progress. If research can be conducted on CBD oils, medicine is on its way to those patients who desperately need it, and who have been waiting for so long.
Should hemp oil even be regarded as medical marijuana? There is no potential for abuse, and no high. Surely, this is just another harmless herb.