The passage of a new bill has helped to plant the seeds for a new business in London.
President Donald Trump recently signed the 2018 Farm Bill, making it legal to produce and sell hemp-derived products, particularly the hemp byproduct CBD (cannabidiol), in the United States.
Congress passes a new Farm Bill almost every five years that shapes food and agriculture, rural economies, trade, and much more. While the 2018 Farm Bill does provide important agricultural and nutritional policy extensions for five years, one of the biggest changes is the legalization of hemp.
Several farmers in Kentucky have been planting hemp since the 2014 Farm Bill opened up state-regulated pilot programs for planting "industrial hemp," which is defined as cannabis sativa plants containing 0.3 percent or less THC--not enough to get someone high.
Following the passage of the bill, Hometown Hemp, a local business, will officially be opening its doors in February, offering high quality hemp-derived products that are harvested and produced right here in Kentucky.
Tracy Fischer, owner of Hometown Hemp, said that when her uncle had cancer, she and her family heard about the benefits of CBD oils but her uncle never tried it, as it was not yet legal in Kentucky.
Not long after her uncle passed away, Fischer began noticing hemp plants growing on a farm near her home and began researching the plant.
"Our curiosity struck when the hemp started growing beside us," she said. "I started researching it and seeing how many benefits it had, how many people it was helping."
As someone who has owned her own tobacco stores in London for several years and believes that the tobacco industry is slowly dying, Fischer thought it would be a great business opportunity for her and her family.
"The biggest problem that we're going to have is that people are going to think its a drug," said Fischer, who claims she too believed hemp was a drug when she first heard of it. "The term is that they (hemp and marijuana) are 'cousins, not twins.'"
Although marijuana is a source of CBD, hemp is also a source for CBD and contains little to no THC, which is the psychoactive ingredient found in the marijuana plant, meaning that CBD derived from hemp cannot get you high. Fischer said that CBD does, however, have many health benefits.
Fischer researched hemp and CBD for several months before going to the CBD Expo in Orlando, Florida, where she was able to try hemp-derived products and learn more about its benefits.
Some of those benefits include pain reduction, reducing anxiety and depression, alleviate cancer-related symptoms and is being studied for treating neurological disorders like epilepsy and multiple sclerosis.
Fischer said that Hometown Hemp will use hemp that is harvested on farms throughout London. The locally grown hemp will be shipped to Winchester, Kentucky, where the store's different hemp-derived products will be made and will then be shipped back to London to be sold to consumers.
Fischer said that Hometown Hemp will offer different types of CBD oils, pain creams, gummy bears that have added sleep aid in them, honey sticks and will eventually offer pain patches. She said the store may also eventually add the actual hemp leaves and vapes to its list of products.
Fischer said the benefits of offering these products in a store is that customers will be able to speak one-on-one with people like Fischer who have researched the products and know which products will best fit the customer's needs.
"There's a ton of products out there but very few products that are truly top quality," she said. "The CBD market is largely unregulated--it's important to be very careful about which products you choose. It's always better to walk into a store front and speak with people educated in hemp-based products. You should always be weary of any online only company or any type of pyramid scheme."
Fischer said she is currently working to come up with a financial assistance plan for those who are low-income and have a doctor recommendation for use of their products.
Hometown Hemp will be opening in February and will be located at 1750 Highway 192 West in London, in the shopping center beside Kroger, between Great Clips and Chiropractic Health Solutions.
For more information, follow Hometown Hemp on Facebook or visit the Hometown Hemp website at www.hometownhemp.us.