LANSING and KENT COUNTY, Mich. — Adam Benge sells hemp products. The oils and other products are manufactured and imported from overseas.
That’s why he’s all for a bill that passed the Michigan House of Representatives.
The legislation permits universities to plant hemp for research right here in Michigan.
“‘Industrial hemp research’ is the first step, in my opinion, to Michigan’s economy coming back,” Benge said.
Marijuana and hemp both come from the cannabis plant. The difference is the level of THC. It’s the THC in cannabis that causes you to get high. Under this legislation, the level of THC in the planted hemp has to be below .3 percent. It’s an amount that won’t get you high.
Benge said, “This is about getting an industrial product that has no psychoactive THC high to it, but all the benefits of cannabis that doesn’t get you high.”
He’s hopeful the university research will validate the benefits of hemp and lead to its commercial use.
“This is about getting a textile. This is about getting a biofuel. This is about getting fuel product. This is about health and wellness products. This is about 2500 uses for this one plant,” Benge said.
A similar law passed in Kentucky in 2013. However, the drug enforcement administration (DEA) blocked the delivery of hemp seeds for industrial research.
It took a lawsuit by the state to move forward.
“I don’t think initially that federal government is trying to stifle this at all. I think they just want to make sure their i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed, and I don’t blame ’em,” Benge said.
He added, “When you introduce it to industries and companies such as ourselves, we’re here to try to manufacture legally, follow the laws, set a standard.”
Benge believes starting with university research could lead to commercial application of the hemp and ultimately create jobs.
Now it’s up to the state senate to pass similar legislation.